The Italian American Writers Association was founded in 1991 to promote Italian American writing by encouraging its writing, reading, publication, distribution, translation, and study. Its members include writers, readers, editors, publishers, agents, translators, teachers, scholars, and indeed all who are interested in the progress of Italian American writing. To promote the production, publication, reception, and study of Italian American writing, IAWA has formulated three rules.
- Read one another. We can’t expect other people to read the books of Italian American writers if we don’t read them ourselves.
- Write or be written. Italian Americans need to write their own realities, rather than waiting for others to do it for them.
- Buy each others’ books. If we want publishers to publish Italian American books, we need to be sure that we can show them a market for those books.
Regularly Scheduled Events
IAWA’s open readings take place on the second Saturday of every odd month (January, March, May, etc) from 5:45 to 7:45 PM at the Cornelia Street Cafe and every even month (February, April, June, etc) at the Sidewalk Cafe from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. The Admission fee of $8 includes one drink.
IAWA Board Members
Robert Agnoli is a Community Organizer and writer. Born in New York City of immigrant parents, Bob’s first language was an Italian dialect – ladino dolomitico. A graduate of New York Military Academy he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in History/Government from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He studied at Fordham University where he received a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) and also holds a Certificate in Telecommunications Analysis from New York University. Currently a member of IAWA’s Board of Directors, Bob has been a Vice President of the American Italian Cultural Roundtable and Co-producer of “Jazz ItaloAmericano” at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill. He is a past President of The National Council of Columbia Associations in Civil Service and was Chairman of the Conference on “Utilization of Italian Americans in Civil Service” at CUNY. As an Executive Board member of the Social Service Employees Union, he was Producer and Master of Ceremonies of the Conference entitled “Future of Social Work in the Public Sector” at the Essex House.
Gil Fagiani’s poetry collections include Rooks (Rain Mountain Press 2007), Grandpa’s Wine (Poets Wear Prada 2008), and have been translated into Italian by Paul D’Agostino; A Blanquito in El Barrio (Rain Mountain Press 2009), Chianti in Connecticut (Bordighera Press 2010), and Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press 2012). Fagiani’s poems and translations have been published in more than a dozen anthologies, as well as such newspapers and journals as The New York Times, The Paterson Literary Review, Mudfish, Skidrow Penthouse, Descant, Lips, The Ledge, Italian Americana, The Journal of Italian Translation, and Gradiva. He has translated into English poetry written in Italian and Abruzzese dialect. Gil co-curates the monthly open reading of the Italian American Writers’ Association at the Cornelia Street Café and is the Associate Editor of Feile-Festa: A Literary Arts Journal. A social worker (L.C.S.W.) and addiction specialist (C.A.S.A.C.) by profession, Gil directed a residential program for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in Downtown Brooklyn for twenty-one years.
Jessica Femiani never planned on writing. She wanted to be a painter like her Italian grandmother, but she now prefers the fluidity of words to that of paint. Her poems have been published in the Paterson Literary Review and she was a finalist for their American Voice In Poetry Prize, 2009. She is a graduate student of English at Brooklyn College and teaches English at the Leonardo da Vinci Middle School in Corona, Queens. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University, an MS in Education from St. John’s University, and is an IAWA Board member. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Maria Lisella’s Pushcart Poetry Prize-nominated work appears in Amore on Hope Street (Finishing Line Press), Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada) and in her collection, Thieves in the Family, pending publication by New York Quarterly Books in 2013. Her poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Fox Chase Review, Mobius, Skidrow Penthouse, Paterson Literary Review and online in New Verse News and First Literary Review-East among others; and has appeared in several anthologies including Avanti Popolo: Italian American Writers Sail Past Columbus (manicdpress). Her creative fiction piece won second prize for the Anne Paolucci Italian American Writers Contest and her latest short story appears in Sweet Lemons 2, Writing with a Sicilian Accent (Legas Press). She co-curates the Italian American Writers Association readings at Cornelia St. Cafe on the second Saturday of each month. She is an editor and travel writer by profession.
Nick Matros has a BFA in playwriting from NYU and an MA in Italian language and literature from Middlebury College. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including: Feile-Festa, Italian Americana, Avanti Popolo!, and More Sweet Lemons. He has also published a number of freelance articles for Gelfmagazine.com. He teaches Italian language in New York and recently took part in an NEH grant-funded institute in Rome, Italy on incorporating art history into the Italian language classroom.
Lisa Marie Paolucci is a Ph.D. candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University in the English Education program who currently serves as the Program Coordinator of the Education Department at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She completed an MA in English at Brooklyn College and an MS in Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute. Her English thesis, written under the supervision of Dr. Robert Viscusi, was titled “The Awareness of Invented Traditionalism in Italian American Writing.” Paolucci cowrote the libretto for the short opera “Little Orphant Annie,” composed by Marie Incontrera, which was produced in 2011 by the Remarkable Theater Brigade at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall.
Peter Patinella was born in Ventimiglia di Sicilia (Palermo), and emigrated to the USA at the age of fourteen. He received a BA in Italian Literature and Political Science from Hunter College, and an MA in Bilingual Education from Fordham University. He taught in the NYC Public Schools’ Bilingual Program for twelve years before switching careers and entering the business world. He co-founded and directed Magia Imports Inc. for twenty eight years. Magia specialized in Importing, distributing, and marketing high-end Italian children’s wear in the USA. Peter recently ended his work in the fashion business. Presently, he dedicates his time to rediscovering his old passion for Italian Literature, teaching, and translation, as well as researching the agricultural, culinary, cultural and artistic traditions of his native Sicily.
Jim Periconi, a long-time IAWA Board member, is the bibliographic editor for the translation of Francesco Durante’s monumental Italo Americana: Storia e Letteratura degli Italiani negli Stati Uniti (vol.2) to be published by Fordham University Press. Periconi has mounted an exhibition (Fall 2012) at the Grolier Club in New York of his collection of Italian-language American imprints, including book-length works and letters of Carlo Tresca, Bernardino Ciambelli, Riccardo Cordiferro, Arturo Giovannitti and other giants of the first phase of Italian-American literature, with an accompanying book. Periconi is a past member of the Executive Council of the American Italian Historical Association. He was co-editor, with Fred Gardaphe, of the IAWA Bibliography of the Italian American Book (2000). He graduated from Columbia College, 1970, B.A., English Literature. A Danforth Graduate Fellow, he received his M.A. in English and Comp Lit at the University of Virginia. He graduated from NYU Law School in 1977 and practices environmental law in Manhattan full time.
Robert Viscusi has made his mark as a poet, novelist, essayist, literary critic, and public speaker. He teaches English at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he is also the Executive Officer of The Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities. He has written on British and American literature, literary theory, and extensively on Italian and Italian American literature and culture. His books include Astoria: A Novel (Guernica Editions, 1995) which won an American Book Award; Buried Caesars, and other Secrets of Italian American Writing (SUNY Press, 2006), which was awarded the Acerbi Prize in Italy and the Fante/DiDonato Prize in New York; the long poem An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus (Bordighera, 1993), and Edizioni Dante & Descartes, 2006; a collection of lyrics entitled A New Geography of Time (Guernica, 2004). Currently he is publishing an epic poem entitled Ellis Island (forthcoming, Bordighera). It is also being issued in a series of bilingual editions by abrigliasciolta editore in Varese. It also exists in the form of a website (ellisislandpoem.com) where its lines are freely mingled by an aleatory algorithm to produce a near-infinite of random sonnets.
Italian American Writers Association
P.O. Box 418
Brooklyn, New York 11215