Book Launch: Soundtrack of a Life: New and Selected Poems by Gil Fagiani

Gil Fagiani (1945–2018), an Italian American with roots in Sicily and Abruzzo, was a poet, an independent scholar, a political activist, a social worker, and a lover of the Italian language. His bilingual collection Soundtrack of a Life: New and Selected Poems was published posthumously by Legas Books on February 15, 2023.

Fagiani was about to be hospitalized when he made the selections from his eight books of poetry for this collection. The poems have since been lovingly translated into Italian and introduced and shepherded by his colleagues and fellow poets: Distinguished Professor Luigi Bonaffini; Michael Palma; and Fagiani’s wife, journalist Maria Lisella.

In 1987 Fagiani made his first trip to Sicily with Maria Lisella as part of the couple’s honeymoon. In the years that followed, the couple would return to Capo d’Orlando and to Naso often, meeting with relatives on both sides of Fagiani’s family. Fagiani began studying the Lancianese dialect and Italian at Brooklyn College under the guidance of Professor Luigi Bonaffini, who became both mentor and devoted friend.

Each of Fagiani’s eight books is organized around a period in his life: Grandpa’s Wine, Chianti in Connecticut, Stone Walls, and Missing Madonnas all deal with his Italian American family and growing up in Stamford, Connecticut. Rooks describes his freshman year (1963–1964) at Pennsylvania Military College. A Blanquito in El Barrio recounts his life in Spanish Harlem in the 1960s, a period of political activism and also drug addiction. Logos explores his time (1969–1971) in a therapeutic community in the South Bronx. Serfs of Psychiatry draws upon his twelve years on staff at Bronx Psychiatric Hospital.

Fagiani began attending IAWA literary readings in the mid-1990s and later co-curated the monthly readings with Maria Lisella. The series included bilingual readings in various dialects as well as the Sagra del Libro. For the past five years, the series has extended to Boston.

This event is co-sponsored by IAWA, the Italian American Writers Association. RSVP by calling (212) 642-2094.

Angelo Zeolla reads from The Bronx Unbound, ovvero i versi Bronxesi (Bordighera Press, 2023)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023, 6pm

Angelo Zeolla reads from The Bronx Unbound, ovvero i versi Bronxesi (Bordighera Press, 2023)

With rugged verse “like a strega’s curse,” Angelo Zeolla navigates the stoops and alleyways of the Bronx through worlds of languages, dialects, cultures, and more. The Bronx Unbound is a kaleidoscopic collection, unveiling the Mediterranean dimensions in the New York City borough and, as he writes, “the realization that civilization/is eternally caught up in the/flux.” The child of Campanian immigrants, Zeolla has published in the journal Philadelphia Poets and the 2008 anthology Avanti Popolo: Italian Americans Sailing beyond Christopher Columbus. This event offers an opportunity to experience Zeolla’s dynamic performance of his transcultural poetry.

Angelo Zeolla will be joined by:

Luis Canyada, Division X emcee

Peter Carravetta, Stony Brook University

Nick Matros, poet

Elisabetta Sanino D’Amanda, Rochester Institute of Technology

Presentation of the Joseph Tusiani Italian Translation Prize

The Tusiani Translation Prize will be presented to Geoffrey Brock for his translation of Giuseppe Ungaretti‘s Allegria. Presenting the prize will be Chairman of the Prize, Prof. Gaetano Cipolla, and the members of the Judging Committee: Peter Carravetta, Michael Palma, Giuseppe Perricone, and Minna Zallman Proctor, as well as Luigi Bonaffini, editor of Journal of Italian Translation, which sponsors the Tusiani Prize. The program will include a bilingual reading of excerpts of Brock’s translation. Sponsored by the Journal of Italian Translation and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, QC/CUNY.

Writers Read: Gianna Patriarca EVENT CANCELED


Gianna Patriarca reads from This Way Home: Selected and New Work (Guernica Editions, 2021).

This Way Home, Gianna Patriarca’s new poetry collection, is, among other things, a challenge to invisibility. This book offers a uniquely and universally powerful voice from a woman who writes clearly and passionately for all generations. She writes about immigrant communities, anger, love, displacement, religion, and violence and about young and older women who defy their socially designated roles.

“Gianna Patriarca has contributed decades of intense and inspiring poetry to the Canadian literary landscape. She writes about … the rough broken skin of workers’ hands, fierce young women who defy their fathers’ belts and ultimately the practicality of survival. Patriarca offers us hauntingly powerful poems with a spirited humour and a full heart.”

— Karleen Pendleton Jimenez, author of Are You a Boy or a Girl?

Discussion led by Anthony Julian Tamburri, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, CUNY.

Free, open to the public, and held in person at the
Calandra Institute.
Registration is required for all events in order to follow current CUNY COVID guidelines. Proof of vaccination and ID are required upon entry. Masks are encouraged but not required. We will continue to assess the latest data and public health guidance and to act in compliance with CUNY protocols.

An Appreciation for the Late Robert Viscusi

On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 2:00pm, EST, the Institute will host a virtual and in-person hybrid event to celebrate the recent publication of This Hope Sustains the Scholar: Essays in Tribute to the Work of Robert Viscusi (2021 Bordighera Press). The volume, a collection of writings from colleague-friends of Bob’s, was edited by Siân Gibby, Joseph Sciorra, and Anthony Julian Tamburri. The event will include participation from contributors to the volume. Friends and colleagues of Bob’s are most cordially and warmly invited to attend in person or via Zoom.

Register for the Zoom event here:

More about the book: “Eleven academics pay tribute to the work of Robert Viscusi (1941-2020), a poet and a scholar of Italian American culture, predominantly literature. Some of these essays deal directly with Viscusi’s research and creative work, while others are inspired by him and the topics and ideas he explored in his lifetime. Robert Viscusi’s legacy is a deep and lasting one. His written body of work challenges us to think about the historical and ongoing Italian American creative presence in the United States by engaging with the artists and the myriad characters they have conjured into existence. Viscusi was a timeless scholar, whose insightful evocations and often playful turns of phrase have helped move the field beyond the parochial to the universal.”