Like Cipolla, Ferdinando Alfonsi is an Italian scholar and poet who has devoted much of his recent energy to developing the important dialogue between Italian and Italo-American cultures. These efforts have resulted in the bilingual anthology Italo-American Poets ( 1985), his Dictionary of Italian/American Poets ( 1989), and Italian/American Poetry ( 1991), all three important references.
Born in Lodi, Italy, Alessandro Carrera started writing poetry when he was eight years old and never stopped. He entered a 1985 Ministry of Foreign Affairs competition for teaching Italian abroad and was awarded the assignment of teaching in America for seven years. While in America, he has published a chapbook of poetry, The Perfect Bride, which reflects cross-cultural influences of American beat poetry and blues music, on one side, while, on the Italian side, the work echoes Italian giants such as Leopardi, Montale, Pasolini, and Ungaretti. A portion of his second novel, The Tower and the Lowlands, appeared in a recent issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction devoted to contemporary Italian writers. His third novel, When I'm Sixty-Four, is close to completion and tells the story of the American immigration to Houston of an elderly English character based on former Beatle Ringo Starr. Though written in Italian, Carerra hopes to have it translated into English. He is currently with the Italian Cultural Center of Toronto and teaches at McMaster College in Hamilton, Ontario.
Antonio D'Alfonso's Guernica Editions of Montreal, Canada, has become a major publishing resource for new immigrant writers. Guernica is spearheading an attempt to enable the various branches of the Italian diaspora to speak to each other from Australia to Argentina, from Italy to Italian/ North America, and D'Alfonso's creative, critical, and publishing efforts have all contributed to provide vital forums for Italian/American literature.
The Sicilian peasant has an affinity with his mule and donkey. They are hard-working beasts, and like the peasant himself have flinty, dour natures. Like the peasant they can work steadily for very long hours without breaking down, unlike the higher nobility horse, who must be pampered. Also, they are surefooted and can pick their way along the mountain terraces without falling and breaking a leg, unlike the fiery stallions or the high-blooded, flighty mares. Also, peasant and donkey and mule subsist and thrive on food that kills other men and animals. But the greatest affinity was this: Peasant, donkey and mule had to be treated with affection and respect, otherwise they turned murderous and stubborn. (58-59)
"The Ass," or "Lu sceccu," was translated by Justin Vitiello, whom I thank for bringing it to my attention. The translation is as yet unpublished.