Italics: Marino Auriti’s Encyclopedic Palace

On the latest edition of Italics, B.G. Firmani, author of Time’s a Thief, A Novel, is in conversation with the Calandra Institute’s Dr. Joseph Sciorra about her grandfather Marino Auriti, creator in the 1950s of the Encyclopedic Palace. Auriti’s sculptural model became the centerpiece and namesake of the Venice Biennale in 2013 and now is a part of the permanent collection at New York City’s American Folk Art Museum.

Click here to watch the episode.
Marino Auriti with his Encyclopedic Palace.
Marino Auriti with his Encyclopedic Palace.

Dean Tamburri Interviews Actor Edoardo Ballerini

Photograph courtesy the New York Times.

With us this month on Italics is Edoardo Ballerini, actor, audiobook narrator, writer, director, and film producer. Ballerini has appeared in more than fifty films and TV shows. He is best known for his work on The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and Dinner Rush. He is a prolific and award-winning audiobook interpreter. Since 2007 he has recorded nearly 300 titles.

Ballerini’s work as a narrator has garnered him international attention. He recently was profiled in a New York Times article titled “The Voice of God …”

To watch the whole conversation, click here.

Message from the Dean on COVID-19 and Civil Unrest

Dear Friends,

We currently inhabit a time in which we struggle on the one hand with nature—that is, the deadly virus that has ravaged many sectors of more than 200 countries around the world—while on the other, we find ourselves caught up in yet another struggle, the systemic racism that has sparked more than a week-long series of protests around the United States, a result of the horrible police killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis.

After close to five months (two and one-half of shutdown for most), COVID-19 remains the mysterious, debilitating, and fatal disease we have witnessed and experienced since this past February. And while genetic evidence has pinpointed the origins of the virus, we still remain, nevertheless, victims of such natural indifference.

In turn, the protests that we have witnessed in many cities across the country prove to be a result of yet another indifference. COVID-19 possesses a disinterest in the human condition; as a force of nature it was born outside the human. The forces instead that killed George Floyd are multilayered and have their roots within the human, dating back 401 years to 1619 with the introduction of African slavery to what would become the United States; they are truly, and cognitively, indifferent, lacking any and all regard for the lives of African Americans and other people of color.

As Italian Americans, and especially as scholars and teachers, who are not only cognizant of our history but who purport to study and promote it, we cannot but stand with black and brown people who have suffered and continue to suffer the indignities as well as the life-threatening violence that emanate from such disregard and callousness. Not to do so is to deny our own history and the indignities that many of our ancestors endured. The difference is that our ancestors were always free and white. Further still, they lived to tell about it.

Empathy is the first step toward fighting for justice for all.

Un caloroso saluto a tutte/i,

AJT Signature
Anthony Julian Tamburri
Dean and Distinguished Professor

Joseph Tusiani: January 14, 1924—April 11, 2020

With the passing of Joseph Tusiani, we have lost a treasure of a man, a wonderful human being, and a great cultured individual.

Joseph came to the United States in 1947 on what was to be a temporary visit. Instead, he remained and became, over the more than seven decades he spent in New York, a noted polymath. Poet first and foremost, prose writer, essayist, translator, Joseph was the true scholar/intellectual.

The winner of the prestigious Greenwood Prize of the Poetry Society of England in 1956, he was the first “American” to be given the award. He was vice president of the Poetry Society of America and director of the Catholic Poetry Society of America. Joseph was also professor of Italian for many years at Lehman College of The City University of New York.

Through his work as translator, he introduced many Italian writers to the English-speaking world: Machiavelli, Tasso, Pulci, Boccaccio, Pascoli, and Leopardi are just some of those whose work he translated over the years. It was, in turn, his translations of Michelangelo’s poetry that earned him a visit to President Kennedy’s White House! That collection will be reissued in the University of Toronto Press’s Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library Series.

Joseph’s reach was extensive and impactful. In addition to his loving family (Michael, Bea, and their children), Joseph leaves behind a plethora of friends and former students whose lives were influenced to various degrees by his mentoring, friendship, and kindness. I feel privileged to have been among those to whom he opened his home, and along with the many things I shall remember and miss, there is also the Centerba we would share during our conversations.

Once we are free of this terrible pandemic, we shall commemorate Joseph in the manner in which he so deserves.

Book Presentation of Future: il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi

On February 4, 2020, at the Calandra Institute was a presentation of Future: il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi, edited by Igiaba Scego. The evening featured Calandra’s dean Anthony Julian Tamburri giving opening comments and serving as moderator; Candice Whitney, who gave a general presentation of the book; Camilla Hawthorne, who spoke on “The Significance of Future and ‘African Italy’”; and Marie Moise and Angelica Pesarini, who gave readings from the work.