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 show them a market for those books.
Our new “fourth” rule is to write reviews of each other’s books.
IAWA Board Members
Joseph Bocchicchio was born in NYC and is third generation Italian – American. Joe has read at IAM Books for the past three years. He is published in Cut-Throat, Up Street, Panning for Poems, Entropy, and is included in chapbooks from two Edith Chase Symposiums on the environment.
He also has work published in Ovunque Siamo on Sacco and Vanzetti in Italian and English. His work is included in “The Healer’s Burden, Poems and Stories of Professional Grief”. Joe’s contribution “Passing Through” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
A retired Crisis Worker, he now works as a Museum Educator at Revolutionary Spaces in Boston where he lives with his wife Victoria.
Christina Bruni our web mistress holds an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.
Her memoir Left of the Dial (2015) is her first book. Her second book is Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers available for pre-order on Amazon.com today with an on-sale date of October 9, 2022. She contributed a chapter, “Recovery is Within Reach” to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health.
Please visit: https://www.christinabruni.com.
Kathy Curto teaches at Sarah Lawrence College/The Writing Institute and Montclair State University, as well as several nonprofit organizations and community centers in the metropolitan area.
She is the author of Not for Nothing-Glimpses into a Jersey Girlhood. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, on NPR, in the anthology Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now, and in Barrelhouse, Toho Journal, The Mom Egg Review, Drift and Talking Writing among others.
Her piece, “Still Cooking Side by Side” considered a “Modern Love in miniature” by The New York Times, was included in The Best of Tiny Love Stories in August 2021. Kathy lives with her family in the Hudson Valley. Please visit: www.kathycurto.com.
Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife Jane now live in Texas.
Joe’s stories have appeared in more than one hundred magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, and Shenandoah. His novels, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (2015), and Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller (2017) were published by Harvard Square Editions.
Rogue Phoenix Press published Drone Strike (2019) and his short story collection, Stories and Places I Remember (2020).
Joe was among one hundred Italian American authors honored by Barnes & Noble to march in Manhattan’s 2017 Columbus Day Parade. Read the first chapter of Joe’s novels and sign up for his blog at https://joe-giordano.com/
Julia Lisella’s books include Always (WordTech Editions, 2014), Terrain (WordTech Editions, 2007), and a chapbook, Love Song Hiroshima (Finishing Line Press, 2004). Her poems are widely anthologized, and are forthcoming or appear in Pangyrus, Lily Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Paterson Literary Review, Mom Egg Review, Nimrod, Exit 7, Ocean State Review and others.
She is a professor of English at Regis College, and co-curates the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) Reading Series in Boston. Her newest collection, Our Lively Kingdom, was named a finalist in the Lauria/Frasca poetry prize and will be published by Bordighera Press in 2022.
Maria Lisella was named a 2020 Poets Laureate Fellow by the Academy of American Poets https://poets.org/poet/maria-lisella, Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate and the author of the collection, Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), and two chapbooks, Amore on Hope Street (Finishing Line Press) and Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada).
Recent work appears in Big City Lit, Mom Egg Review, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Red Wheelbarrow. Her latest chapbook, The Man with a Plan is pending publication. She co-curates the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) series, now in its 31st year. She contributes to the Jerusalem Post and online publications, Never Stop Traveling and the bilingual La Voce di New York.
Visit her at https://marialisella.contently.com/
Peter Marra’s writings explore alienation, addiction, love, the curse of secrets, the pain of victimization and the impact of obsessions.
Peter has had over 300 poems published either in print or online in over 25 journals.
His published works include approximate lovers (downtown materialaktion) (Bone Orchard Press), Peep-O-Rama: Sins of the Go-Go Girls (Hammer & Anvil Books) and Vanished Faces (a performance of occult infections) published by Writing Knights Press.
His latest poetry collection is Random Crucifixions: Obsessions, Dolls and Maniac Cameras (Hammer & Anvil Books). His latest work, A Naked Kiss from a Broken Doll, a surrealistic giallo novel was published in 2019 by Hammer & Anvil Books.
He is currently completing a collection of prose poems, yet untitled.
Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. She is also the author of the chapbooks In the Year of Ferraro from Nixes Mate Press and After Bird, winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016. Her work has appeared in The Tahoma Literary Review, Thrush, Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner of the Photo Finish contest), and Poetry.
Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review and co-curates the Italian American Writers Association Reading Series.
Lisa Paolucci is an Assistant Professor of Education at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. She recently received her Ph.D. in English Education from Columbia University. Formerly, she taught high school English in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Her poems have been published in Ovunque Siamo, #metoo, anch’io (2020), No Distance Between Us, The Next Collection (2021), and Literary Vegan.
Board Members In Memoriam
Our current board members are grateful for the exceptional service our board members in memoriam gave to IAWA:
When a group of Italian America writers met in 1991, they started a conversation that would change our literary and cultural landscape forever; it was Robert Viscusi who kept that conversation going.
Together with the bad girls of IAWA at the outset: Vittoria repetto, Kathy Nocerino, Adele LeBarre, Rosette Capotorto, the open mic engaged hundreds of emerging and veteran authors and continues to do so into its 31st year, making it among the longest literary series in NYC.
Viscusi invented the three rules of IAWA: Read each other, Write or be written and Buy our books—rules we use to introduce each and every monthly reading that has spread to a Boston-based series. To which we have added, Review each other—which we think Viscusi would’ve approved.
We have lost four major IAWA figures: Vittoria repetto, Robert Viscusi, Gil Fagiani and Emelise Aleandri all gone within minutes of each other it seems.
We are grateful for the commitment and dedication of these four:
Born in Riva del Garda, Italy, Dr. Emelise Aleandri (1943-2016) emigrated to the U.S. when she was four and was raised in the Bronx. She was an actress, singer, author, and producer. She was the country’s foremost scholar of Italian American theater and has been a dynamic and IAWA Board member.
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.
Aleandri was the Artistic Director of Frizzi & Lazzi the Olde Time Italian-American Music and Theatre Company. She produced three documentaries: Teatro, Festa and Circo Rois, she also created, co-produced and co-hosted the first regularly scheduled TV program about Italian-Americans, Italics: The Italian-American Magazine for CUNY-TV. Arcadia published her three photographic histories: The Italian-American Immigrant Theatre of New York City, La Piccola Italia and Little Italy.
Gil Fagiani (1945-2018) was a translator, essayist, short-story writer, and poet. His work has been translated into French, Greek, Italian, and Spanish, and his translations have appeared in such anthologies as A New Map: The Poetry of Migrant Writers in Italy, edited by Mia Lecomte and Luigi Bonaffini; Poets of the Italian Diaspora, edited by Luigi Bonaffini and Joseph Perricone; and Italoamericana: The Literature of the Great Migration, 1880—1943, edited by Francesco Durante and Robert Viscusi (American Edition).
He has published six books of poetry; his first posthumous publication is Missing Madonnas (Bordighera, 2018), that completes his Connecticut Trilogy that includes Stone Walls and Chianti in Connecticut; and in addition, has published Logos (Guernica Editions, 2015), A Blanquito in El Barrio, Rooks (Rain Mountain Press); plus three chapbooks: Crossing 116th Street, Grandpa’s Wine (Poets Wear Prada), and Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press).
In 2016, his essay “What Does It Mean to Be White in America: My Multi-Metamorphoses” appeared in What Does It Mean to Be White In America? Breaking the White Code of Silence, A Collection of Personal Narratives (2Leaf Press). Most recently, his poem “Miss Johnson is Dead” appeared in Black Lives Have Always Mattered: A Collection of Essays, Poems, and Personal Narratives (2Leaf Press). His bilingual collection, translated by Luigi Bonaffini is pending publication.
Fagiani was co-curator of literary readings for the Italian American Writers Association and co-founder of the Vito Marcantonio Forum. He grew up in Stamford, CT, and graduated from the Hunter School of Social Work in New York City. He was the subject of a New York Times article by David Gonzalez, “A Poet Mines Memories of Drug Addiction” in February 2014.
Vittoria repetto (1951-2020) described herself as “a native downtown guinea dyke butch who grew up in the Greenwich Village…” She served as the vice president of the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) series and edited its monthly newsletter from 1992 to 2014. She and Professor Robert Viscusi developed the IAWA monthly literary reading series that began at the Barnes & Noble at Astor Place, and gradually moved to other venues Cornelia St. Café, Sidewalk Café and most recently, NYPL on Mulberry St.
Following her IAWA work, she hosted the Women’s/Trans’ Poetry Jam & Open Mic at Bluestockings Bookstore 1999-2018 for an 18-year run. By day, she was a NYC Chiropractor-Applied Kinesiologist-NeuroKinetic Therapist and advertised that since 1987, she had been helping people feel better naturally. Her publications included a chapbook, Head For the Van Wyck and a collection, Not Just a Personal Ad (Guernica, 2006).
Robert Viscusi (1941-2019) has published Astoria: A Novel (Guernica, 1995; American Book Award 1996), An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus (long poem, Bordighera VIA Folios, 1993, third edition 1998), A New Geography of Time (poems, Guernica , 2004), Buried Caesars, and Other Secrets of Italian American Writing (critical history, SUNY Press, 2006; Premio Giuseppe Acerbi, 2008. Among his final literary projects is the epic poem entitled Ellis Island (Bordighera, 2012).
Viscusi arrived at Brooklyn College with a B.A. in English from Fordham College and an M.A. in English from Cornell. He started his career as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College in 1968, but his passion for writing led him to become a Professor of English at the university and eventually the Executive Officer of the Wolfe Institute for the Humanities.
While a circle of Italian American authors attended the first meeting of what would eventually become IAWA, it was Viscusi who shepherded the organization to produce monthly readings with the support of the late Vittoria repetto for more than 20 years.