New Immigrant Literatures in the United States: A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage

By Alpana Sharma Knippling | Go to book overview
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traditions of Italian, British, and American lyric and epic poetry. The interaction between these cultures becomes a basis for the creation of new myths that concern life and love between two worlds. While Carravetta has privately published a number of poetry chapbooks, he has recently placed a collection of his poetry with Guernica Editions of Montreal. The Sun and Other Things marks a major shift in his writing career. Ranging over the past twenty years of his life, he deals with such subjects as life, literature, linguistics, sensual and platonic love, and adolescent angst. He anxiously reacts to the influence on him by such classic poets as Dante, Shakespeare, and the English romantics. The entire collection is a metamorphic journey in which the poet, at home in English and Italian traditions, travels from thought to word. The result is that, for Carravetta, writing becomes the sanctuary of a self besieged by forces competing for the author's attention. One of his stylistic trademarks is frequent code switching between English and Italian; his work also includes phrases and sentences from other Romance languages such as French and Spanish.

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly Italian about the short stories in Anne Calcagno first collection Pray for Yourself. While two of the nine are set in Italy, the rest are scattered about urban and rural America and are peopled with characters peculiar to America. What is Italian about these remarkably American short stories can be found under the surface of the polished prose and carefully constructed sentences. Calcagno brings the beauty of poetry into the complexity of prose fiction by capturing the rhythms and sounds of the Italian language through English. Calcagno weaves Italian sensibilities with English syntax to create stories that resonate in the mind long after the last page has been turned.

Born in San Diego, Calcagno was raised in Milan and Rome since the age of four, when her father's job transferred the family. At the age of seventeen she returned to the United States to attend Williams College, where the late John Gardner encouraged her writing by calling her synthesis of Italian and English "original." After graduation from Williams College, Calcagno lived in New York City, where she worked for the Italian newspaper La repubblica. She then moved to Montana to work on a master's of fine arts in poetry and fiction at the University of Montana. She had published stories in such periodicals as the North American Review and the Denver Quarterly, as well as in the anthologies Fiction of the Eighties and American Fiction, prior to placing her collection with TriQuarterly Books, Northwestern University's new venture. Calcagno is an assistant professor of English and teaches creative writing at DePaul University in Chicago. She is currently at work on a novel that deals with a family and Italian immigration during this century.


CONCLUSION

By way of concluding this chapter, I include some brief sketches of major writers who, while they have primarily produced literature in Italian, are creating new dimensions of Italian/American literature, as more and more their works

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