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Giving Voice: Italian American Poets and Writers at Hofstra University’s Italian Experience 2001-05:

The Poets' Piazza

Vito & Carolyn De Simone & Louisa Calio: Organizers

Conceived of and spearheaded three years ago by former President of the Association of Italian American Educators (AIAE), Dr. Vito De Simone and his wife, teacher, Carolyn DeSimone, with the talented and versitile Robert T. Spiotto, Artistic Director of Community Arts Programs at Hofstra University, The Poets and Writers Piazza has become an integral feature of The Italian Experience Festival, an event that offers the community the best of Italian culture, food, music and fun at Hofstra University’s Campus for the past twelve years. The value of the literary word, especially poetry in our culture and its extension into America has sometimes been overlooked at such Festivals. With the intention of introducing the vast talent of Italian and Italian American writers, AIAE along with Hofstra has presented over 40 authors as well as an open mike to allow up and coming writers an opportunity to share their voices.

This year, the day began with Ms. De Simone and Ms. Calio bringing 100 packets of writings which contained the selected works and biographical sketches of each presenter to the Italian Teachers Breakfast sponsored by the Sons of Italy. Poetry as a creative force in our world was talked about, especially within in the context of offering a genuine perception of the Italian people rather than a stereotype. Then at the Emily Lowe Hall poetry filled the room with its music as readers shared their unique voices and perceptions and their books were sold along with other works by Italian and Italian American Writers at the book display put on by Italian American Bookshelf. [Photo: Carolyn De Simone, Organizer and Co-Host, with Daniela Gioseff, Featured Poet]

Organized for the third time by co-chairs, Poet Louisa Calio and teacher Carolyn De Simone, an outstanding selection of authors were featured: Ms. Calio, pictured at right, (a winner of the Connecticut commission of the Arts Award for Writers) read from her epic poem: Journey to the Heart Waters; Dr. Luigi Fontanella, editor of Gradiva and Professor of Italian at SUNY Stonybrook read a [selection of his poetry in both Italian and English, as did Irene Machegiani, also of SUNY Stonybrook. Bordighera award winner, Paola Corso, read her poetry as did Mary Jo Bona, George Guida, Robert Viscusi, Aldo Tambellini, and Rachel Guido DeVrees.

Daniela Gioseffi, the renowned American Book Award winning author of Women on War, and the winnerof a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Italian American Educators, read in the main tent as featured poet and held a large audience's interest achieving a big round of applause. She read from her books of poems, Word Wounds & Water Flowers and Going On (VIA Folios: Bordighera Press.)[Photo: Vito DiSimone Presents Ms. Gioseffi with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Featured in the main tent last year was the accomplished poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan.


The majority of readings took place in Lowe Hall. That evening the DeSimone family generously hosted all the writers at a sumptuos candelight dinner, "a spaghettata" a special thank you for their contribution, an opportunity to exchange ideas while getting to know each other.

Photo of some who attended the dinner reception 2004-05.

Review by Louisa Calio, (C) 2005

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