Monthly Archives: January 2016

IAWA’s Open Reading Series – Saturday, February 13, 2016 – Open Mic plus Features Chiara Montalto Giannini & Frank Polizzi

The Italian American Writers Association will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2016. Since 1991, IAWA has given voice to writers through its literary series every second Saturday of the months. Readings begin with an Open Mic: IAWA-East is held even months at Sidewalk Café and IAWA-West continues at Cornelia Street Café on odd months. Visit and join us at

IAWA Presents Pre-Valentine Passions

WHERE: Sidewalk Café, 94 Avenue A (6th Street) East Village, NYC-10009

WHEN:  February 13, 2016 (Saturday)    5:30 – 7:30 pm

WHO: Chiara Montalto Giannini is the author of the critically-acclaimed play A Brooklyn Love Story: Emergency Used Candles, which she performed Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre and in Los Angeles. Set in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the play is a coming of age tale between a young Italian-American woman and her grandfather. It is currently being adapted into a feature film. She has performed in films, TV and onstage, including in the 40th Anniversary Production of Balm In Gilead, Metropolitan Operas and other productions. Recently married to Pierfrancesco Giannini, she is thrilled to be back “home” at IAWA.

Frank Polizzi is a poet, playwright and editor of Feile-Festa, an online literary arts journal. Polizzi’s work has appeared in The Archer, Bitterroot, Electric Acorn (Dublin Writers), Mudfish, Paterson Literary Review, Wired Art. His latest poetry collection, A New Life with Bianca (Bordighera Press, 2015) includes translations into Italian by Chiara Curtoni and Sicilian by Nino Provenzano; engravings by Michael Mc Curdy; followed by an Afterword by Prof. Anthony Di Renzi (Ithaca College). Finishing Line Press published his chapbook, All Around Town in 2011. The Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA) included his one-act play, By the Light of a Barber Pole in its 2009 reading series.  An excerpt from his novel, A Pity Beyond All Telling was shortlisted for the Fish Prize in Ireland. Polizzi is seeking a publisher for a new novel, Somewhere in the Stars, which made the 2014 Long list of the U.K. publisher, Lightship, for its “First Novel Prize.”

COVER: $8 includes beverage.

CONTACT:; or 212-473-7373.

DIRECTIONS: By Subway, F to Second Avenue or #6 to Astor Place


IAWA Newsletter:

BLOG: italian american writers café


Remembering Dr. Emelise Aleandri

IAWA was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our Distinguished Board Member, Dr. Emelise Aleandri, on January 17, 2016.

Dr. Emelise Aleandri was an actress, singer, author and producer. She is the country’s foremost scholar of Italian American theater, and has been a dynamic and dear friend of our organization.

Dr. Aleandri was the Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi the Olde Time Italian-American Music and Theatre Company. She has produced three documentaries: Teatro, Festa and Circo Rois. Dr. Aleandri also created, co-produced and co-hosted the first regularly scheduled TV program about Italian-Americans, Italics: The Italian-American Magazine for CUNY-TV.

A frequent guest on TV, film and radio as an expert on Italian American culture, and on workplace abuse. Dr. Aleandri served as President of Little Italy’s Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge #285 (OSIA). She was also a member of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). She was an Elena Cornaro Award Honoree(OSIA), a New York State Woman of Distinction, and an Honoree of Leone de San Marco, a member of the Commission for Social Justice (OSIA), Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge (OSIA), Italian-American Educators, and won Awards from the Italian government and Brooklyn Women in Business.

Her crowning achievement as an author and scholar is the 14-volume encyclopedic history, The Italian-American Immigrant Theater of New York City, 1746-1899. Each volume focuses on a different aspect of theater from Early Italian Vaudeville and Opera to Singers and Aerial Swingers and Actors.Arcadia published her three photographic histories, The Italian-American Immigrant Theatre of New York City, La Piccola Italia and Little Italy. Other writings have appeared online and in many anthologies such as The Journey of the Italians in America by Vincenza Scarpaci, to name one.

Born at Riva del Garda, Italy, Dr. Emelise Aleandri emigrated to the U.S. when she was four and was raised in the Bronx. While working toward her M.A. in Theatre from Hunter College and her Ph.D. in Theatre from the City University of New York, she began a lifelong research into Italian-American history and culture. In 1984, after several years of university teaching, she was appointed the Director of the Center for Italian-American Studies at Brooklyn College, where she directed bilingual theatre in Italian and English.

During her career, she appeared in feature films, theatre and television productions. Among her recent credits, she stars in the title roles of Sister Italy (Paisan Films), now in worldwide distribution, and Madame Soraya (Leone Productions). Dr. Aleandri played roles in Spike Lee’s films Summer of Sam, and Crooklyn, and the mother in the film Vito Bonafacci, and she created the lead role of Eleonora Duse in the teleplay Of Penguins and Peacocks.

She had Off-Broadway production roles in Sweatshop (American Theatre of Actors), Festa Primavera (La Mama ETC); and Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions (Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre). Hush the Musical, her adaptation of Etta Cascini’s comedy SHHHH!, with music by Charles Mandracchia, in which she starred as Georgia, played several New York venues in 2011 and won the MidWinter Madness Festival Award.

Dr. Aleandri was an Elena Cornaro Award Honoree(OSIA), New York State Woman of Distinction, and an Honoree of Leone de San Marco, Commission for Social Justice (OSIA), Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge (OSIA), Italian-American Educators, Awards from the Italian government and Brooklyn Women in Business.

Dr. Aleandri is survived by a sister and her family in California; and a community that will miss her.


Friday, January 22 from 5:00-9:00 P.M.: a viewing will be held followed by a Special Service at 7:30 P.M. at Vanella Funeral Chapel, 29 Madison Street, NY, NY 10038

Sunday, January 24 at 5:30 P.M.: A “Celebration of Life” gathering will be at the Order of the Sons of Italy’s Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge Hall at Most Precious Blood Church, 113 Baxter Street, NY, NY 10013