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The Bordighera Poetry Prize

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Contemporary Italian American Writing

BORDIGHERA PRESS: La Storia

Founded by Fred. L. Gardaphe,
Paolo A. Giordano, and Anthony J. Tamburri

Bordighera Press
Gardaphe, Giordano and Tamburri attend a conference in Italy. [Scroll down to the biographical notes at bottom of page.]

Bordighera Press (an imprint of Bordighera Inc.) founded in 1989 by three authors, Anthony J. Tamburri, Fred L. Gardaphe, and Paolo A. Giordano, is thriving in a time when some thought new, alternative presses would be hard put to succeed. A recent Renaissance in Italian American writing may have something to do with its success. Bordighera, Inc. began primarily as the non-profit publisher of Voices in Italian Americana, known as VIA, now chiefly edited by Fred L. Gardaphe, author and at that time a professor of English at Columbia College, Chicago. Dr. Gardaphe is now Director of Italian American Studies at The State University of New York at Stony Brook. A semi-annual magazine, VIA is dedicated to Italian American literature and culture, and first appeared in Spring 1990 after the three editors found themselves with more than 200 pages of worthwhile creative works left over from their initial cooperative venture, an anthology, From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana published by Purdue University Press. (The anthology sold out and was reprinted in 1995 and again in a new edition in 2001.)

To accommodate its overflow the editors founded VIA with the realization that, at the time, there were no active magazines of any significance dedicated to the particular plight and profile of the Italian American writer. (Italian Americana, founded in 1974 by Ernesto Falbo of The State University of New York at Buffalo and Dr. Richard Gambino of Queens College of the City University of New York, had suspended its publication in 1983 and did not resume until 1990 after VIA was already underway.) VIA's sister publication, Italiana, dedicated to Italian language writing in the United States, was initially founded by Professors Paolo A. Giordano of Loyola University in Chicago, and Albert Mancini, of The Ohio State University, in 1986.

Italiana became a Bordighera Incorporated publication in 1991. Italiana has since published ten volumes. Each volume is dedicated to a specific theme or author of Italian culture and is guest co-edited. In 1995, Bordighera began the publication of VIA Folios, a series of books chiefly edited by Anthony J. Tamburri, a professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Purdue University, who has now relocated himself and the press to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. VIA Folios specializes in the literature and culture of both Italian America and Italy. The three founders of Bordighera, Inc. realized that their publication, Voices in Italian Americana helped to fill a void and they have consistently published two volumes per year, ever since. All three are authors of various books as well as fulltime professors, but have found the time to keep their non-profit venture going--greatly out of devotion to la causa.

Why a journal devoted particularly to Italian American writing?-- one might ask--especially if one were unaware that most Italian American writers have joined the multicultural movement in protest against their exclusion from the mainstream of American letters and their desire to fight the Hollywood and television stereotyping of their people as "dumb, spaghetti bending Guidos" or sensational Mafiosi. Most Americans are unaware, for one historical example, that the largest mass lynching in US history was of a group of innocent Italian immigrant laborers in New Orleans at the turn of the century.

Americans are generally insensitive to the subtle discrimination suffered by Italian Americans and their writers. Few are aware of "Una Storia Segreta," the little known history of concentration camps for Italian Americans which existed here in the United States during World War II, just as for Japanese Americans whose farm lands and homes were falsely confiscated in the name of U.S. security. A documentary, pictorial exhibit of this injustice has been touring the country and came from The University of California to The City University of New York in 1998, thanks mostly to the efforts of Larry Di Stasi.

Due to the absence of any publishing house for Italian American writers--one which would allow the non-stereotypical, true story of the Italian American experience to be told in the United States, Bordighera Press branched out into publishing VIA Folios in 1993. By the middle of 1997, VIA Folios accumulated a list of eleven titles: three collections of poetry, by, Ned Condini, Joseph Ricapito and American Book Award Winner, Daniela Gioseffi; a novella by Fred Misurella; a chapbook by Robert Viscusi, recent American Book Award Winner, on the most current death of Christopher Columbus, which inaugurated the series; four books of critical studies; a volume on Italian theater; and a collection of literary essays by Helen Barolini, editor of The Dream Book: Writings by Italian American Women, from Schocken/Pantheon, 1986 winner of the American Book Award. And, many other titles which have been published and are currently in print in 2001.

Voices in Italian Americana, Bordighera's initial effort, is a journal divided into various sections. "The Guest Spot" was once edited by Daniela Gioseffi, responsible for bringing guest writers of other backgrounds to its pages each issue to keep the venture from becoming insular. She brought such luminaries as Grace Paley, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Carilda Oliver Labra, Robert Bly, Stephanie Strickland and Bob Holman to grace VIA's pages, among such writers as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Ciardi, Jonathan Galassi, Felix Stefanile, Carol Maso, Chris Mazza, Tony Ardizone, Dana Gioia, Richard Gambino, Jerre Mangione, Grace Cavalieri and Ben Morreale-- to name just a few of the fine writers published in VIA. Many have gathered around the magazine in support of its endeavors to give a voice to the Italian American community and its unique place in American literature. There is a section of Essays; Fiction; Poetry edited by Mary Jo Bona, Professor of Italian American Studies at SUNY, Stony Brook; a section of Italian Writing in the United States; and Reviews, as well as news notes, in each issue. Voices in Italian Americana has also devoted issues to Pietro Di Donato, author of the famed depression years novel, Christ in Concrete, celebrating the plight of immigrant laborers, and Jerre Mangione, novelist and author, with Ben Morreale, of La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian in America, published in 1993 by Harper Collins. A 1996 issue was dedicated entirely to Italian/American women writers.

Since its inception, Voices In Italian Americana has also awarded a monetary prize for creative writing -- the Aniello Lauri Award of $150 per year to the best creative work published in the journal. In addition to this award, Voices in Italian Americana has also supported the Cleveland Italian Cultural Center's annual high school essay contest by publishing the winning essays.

The initial funding for Bordighera Incorporated came from the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli of Turin, Italy, without whose help none of the presses several ventures: Voices in Italian Americana; Via Folios, Italiana and the Bordighera Poetry Prize Series could have been possible. Since 1990, Bordighera Inc. has managed to prosper due also to the generosity of numerous individual supporters and subscribers and the various means of generous support of the three editors' home institutions: Columbia College Chicago, The State University of New York at Stony Brook, Loyola University Chicago, Purdue University of Indiana, and now Florida Atlantic University at Boca Raton. Bordighera Incorporated is an independently owned, not-for-profit (501[c]3) scholarly organization with no legal affiliation to campus institutions. It is currently located at The John D. Calandra Italian Americn Institute of Queens College of The City University of New York.

Because of Bordighera Press, many Italian American writers have begun to say who the Italian in America really is in all complexity. These writers are beginning to wipe away the Hollywood stereotypes, which still haunt them in television land. They have begun to enter the mainstream of the multicultural movement and to attempt to tell their own stories there as African, Jewish, Latino, and Asian American writers learned to do to break free of cruel and debilitating stereotyping.

Each year, at Poets House in New York City, Bordighera Press announces the winner of its Poetry Book Prize for the best manuscript of American poetry to be translated into Italian to create a bi-lingual text. The Bordighera Prize, sponsored by the Sonia Raiziss--Giop Charitable Foundation for Poetry offers $2,000 to the annual winner, plus book publication by Bordighera, Press. The prize was initiated by Daniela Gioseffi and Alfredo dePalchi to promote both the literature of the diaspora and the language. When Eugene Montale won the Noble Prize for Literature for his poetry and was complimented for his poetic gift, he answered forlornly, "What does it matter? I write in a dying language."

Since Italy has not colonized other countries with its language as American English is colonizing the globe, Italian chiefly lives internationally, due to music and opera. Of course, names like Dante and Montale keep it alive, too, but Gioseffi, along with dePalchi--the Senior Associate Editor and one of the early editors of Chelsea magazine--wanted to help the Italian language thrive a little more among American poets. To promote the Italian language among Italian American poets, and to help foster Italian American poets, Gioseffi was inspired to collaborate with dePalchi to found the Bordighera Poetry prize. Daniela Gioseffi serves as director of the prize, enlisting a distinguished poet judge every two years to chose from approximately choice to another distinguished poet each year. The distinguished past judges have been: Felix Stefanile, W.S. DiPiero, Dorothy Barresi, Donna Masini, Daniela Gioseffi, Michael Palma, Patricia Fargnoli, Paul Mariani, Lia Purpura. The winners have been Lewis Turco, Joe Salerno, Luisa Rossina Villani, Stephen Massimilla, Jane Tassi, Gerry La Femina, Carolyn Guinzio, Grace Cavalieri, Emily Ferrara,| Tony Magistrale, Michael LaSorsa Steffen, Carla Panciera, Matthew Cariello, John Ortenzio Bargowski, Joanne Monte. Their translators into Italian for their bilingual editions have been Joseph Alessia, Emanuel di Pasquale and Luigi Fontanella. Luigi Bonafini, a professor at Brooklyn College, was also awarded a Translator's Citation of $500 in 1999 for his fine work of translating several entries to the prize.

Alfredo DePalchi as Trustee of the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation, also helped to institute the Sonia Raiziss-dePalchi Prize for translation of Modern Italian poetry under the aegis of The Academy of American Poets. With Sonia Raiziss, his former, now deceased wife, dePalchi, a poet in his own right, author of three celebrated collections from Xenos Books, was devoted to the translation of Modern Italian poetry into English. Chelsea was edited by Sonia Raiziss and Alfredo dePalchi to promote internationalism in poetry and literature. The Bordighera Prize is a further effort toward an international spirit in American literature.

by Daniela Gioseffi with some text supplied by Dr. Anthony J. Tamburri. Photo supplied by Dr. Fred L. Gardaphe.

Biographical Notes on the
Founders of BORDIGHERA, Inc.

ANTHONY JULIAN TAMBURRI is Professor of Italian & Comparative Literature, and chair of the Department of Languages and Linguistics, at Florida Atlantic University. He has written Of "Saltimbanchi" and "Incendiari": Aldo Palazzeschi and Avant-Gardism in Italy (1990); To Hyphenate or not to Hyphenate: the Italian/American Writer: Or, An "Other" American? (1991); Per una lettura retrospettiva. Prose giovanili di Aldo Palazzeschi (1994); A Reconsideration of Aldo Palazzeschi's Poetry (1905-1974): Revisiting the "Saltimbanco" (1998); A Semiotic of Ethnicity: In (Re)cognition of the Italian/American Writer (1998); and A Semiotic of Re-reading: Italo Calvino's "Snow Job" (1999). His essays and articles on Italian literature and art, Italian/American studies, and popular culture have appeared in numerous journals, including L'Asino d'oro, Italica, Canadian Journal of Italian Studies, Differentia, review of italian thought, Prairie Winds, Semiotic Spectrum, Italian Culture, Campi immaginabili, The American Journal of Semiotics, The Italian Journal, Ipotesi 80, L'ANELLO che non tiene, Italiana, Gradiva, and Segni e comprensione. Among his editorial work, with Paolo A. Giordano and Fred L. Gardaphé, he is co-contributing editor of the volume From The Margin: Writings in Italian Americana (1991; revised edition, 2000) and co-founder of Bordighera Press, publisher of the semi-annual, Voices in Italian Americana, a literary and cultural review, the annual, Italiana, and two book series, VIA FOLIOS and CROSSINGS, as well as THE BORDIGHERA POETRY PRIZE. He is, with Ben Lawton, co-founder of the Purdue Conference on Romance Languages, Literatures & Film and co-editor of its Romance Languages Annual. His other edited volumes and special issues include, with Ron Scapp. Differentia, Review of Italian Thought (1994); with P. A. Giordano, he is a contributing co-editor of a special issue of Canadian Journal of Italian Studies (1996) and a book of essays, Beyond the Margin: Readings in Italian Americana (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998). His forthcoming work includes: La semiotica della ri-lettura: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, e Italo Calvino; Italian/American Briefs: A Semiotic Reading of Short Films & Videos (Purdue UP); and the co-edited volume with Anna Camaiti Hostert, to appear in both English and Italian, Screening Ethnicity: Cinematographic Representations of Italian Americans in the U.S. L'etnia celluloide: la rappresentazione degli italoamericani nel cinema statunitense [Luca Sossella Editore, 2001]. FRED GARDAPHE is Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies at Queens College, CUNY. For 10 years he directed the American Studies and Italian American Studies Programs at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is Associate Editor of Fra Noi, an Italian American monthly newspaper, editor of the Series in Italian American Studies at State University of New York Press, and co-founding-co-editor of Voices in Italian Americana, a literary journal and cultural review. He is past president of MELUS (2003-2006) and the American Italian Historical Association (1996-2000), His edited books include: New Chicago Stories, Italian American Ways, and From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana. He has written two one-act plays: "Vinegar and Oil," produced by the Italian/American Theatre Company in 1987, and "Imported from Italy," produced by Zebra Crossing Theater in 1991. His study, Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative, is based on his dissertation which one the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli/Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs award for 1993 dissertations) and was published by Duke University Press in 1996; it was named an Outstanding Academic Book for 1996 by Choice. He has also published Dagoes Read: Tradition and the Italian/American Writer and Moustache Pete is Dead!: Italian/American Oral Tradition Preserved in Print, Leaving Little Italy: Essaying Italian American Studies, and From Wiseguys to Wise Men: Masculinities and the Italian American Gangster. Importato dall’italia ed altri racconti dalla vecchia quartiere, an Italian translation of a collection o f short fiction will be published by L’idea Press this fall. His most recent book is The Art of Reading Italian Americana. He is at work on a memoir entitled “Living with the Dead,” and a book on irony and humor in Italian American culture.

PAOLO GIORDANO: received his Ph.D. in Italian Studies with a minor in Art History from Indian University, and his MA in Italian from Middlebury College. He is currently Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Loyola University Chicago (1998 - present). He has served as Director and Academic Dean of the Loyola University Rome Campus and as Director of the Master Program in Liberal Studies. Giordano has also held teaching appointments at the Scuola Italiana of Middlebury College. His research interests are in Italian-American Studies, the Italian Renaissance, and 20th-century Italian Literature. His essays and articles on Italian literature and art, and Italian-American studies, have appeared in Italian and American journals. The most significant publications he has been associated with are From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana, edited with Anthony Tamburri and Fred Gardaphé and re-released as a second and revised edition; Beyond the Margin (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1998) also with A. Tamburri. He is co-founder of Bordighera Press, publisher of the semi-annual, Voices in Italian Americana (co-editor), the annual, Italiana (co-editor), and two book series, VIA FOLIOS and CROSSINGS, as well as the Bordighera Poetry Prize. He also serves as Associate Editor of Italica, the publication of the American Assocaition of Teachers of Italian. He is currently working on an essay on Gabriello Chiabrera for the Dictionary of Literary Biographies. In 2012, Giordano was honored by his home town of Bordighera, Italy, for this accomplishments in promoting Italian and Italian American culture.

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