Volume XXXVI No. 2 Summer 2018

Table of Contents

  • Letter from the Editorv
  • Notes on Contributorsix
  • The Delivery of Mussolini’s Rings in Rhode Island: A Collaboration between
    Catholic Priests and Italian Fascist Officials
    Valeria Federici
  • Membranza Sì Cara e Fatal: Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” as an Icon of Italian
    Culture from the 1850s to the Present Date
    Stephanie Ruozzo
  • Michael Parenti, Un leone italoamericano della sinistra
    Bob Masullo
  • Interview with Joe Castiglione, the Voice of the Boston Red Sox
    Richard Bonanno
  • Featured Poet Thomas Centolella
    • Essay, “The Country Inside Me”185
    • Solo187
    • Memo to Self188
    • The Visitor189
  • Leap
    Marilyn Annucci
  • The Photographer
    Mary Bonina
  • Open Season, 2016
    John Hennessy
  • Ancient Customs
    David Masello
  • Above the Insomniac Sea
    Stephen Massimilla
  • To Be
    Joanna Clapps Herman
    Catherine Marenghi
  • Rally at Courthouse Square
    Brian Fanelli
  • Flannery’s Wise Blood
    Angela Alaimo O’Donnell
  • My Mother’s Hair
    Dom Fonce
  • Dolls
    Edvige Giunta
  • Ex Voto
    April Lindner
    Fiction & Creative Non-fiction
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
    C.J. Spataro
  • Oleander and Olive
    Joe Giordano
  • A Keen Listening
    Toti O’Brien
  • Review Essay: Writing the Waves of Migration in Italy
    E tu splendi by Giuseppe Catozzella
    Review by Maria Galli Stampino
  • Review Essay: Italian Musical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America Italian Music in Dakota: The Function of European Musical Theater in U.S. Culture by Andrea Mariani
    Review by Stefano Maria Casellao
  • Searching for Subversives by Mary Elizabeth Basile Chopas
    Review by Francesca De Lucia
  • The Politics of Migration in Italy: Perspectives on Local Debates and Party
    Competition by Pietro Castelli Gattinara
    Review by Lorenzo Filippo Bacchini
  • The Italian Immigrant’s Daughter by Gina Mossa Molino and Suzanna Rosa Molino
    Review by Cristina Favretto
  • Fate in his Eye and Empire on his Arm: La nascita e lo sviluppo della
    letteratura epica statunitense by Enrico Botta
    Review by Marco Sioli
  • Second Wife by Rita Ciresi
    Review by Maria Serena Marchesi
  • Baseball Italian Style by Lawrence Baldassaro
    Review by Richard Bonanno
  • Performing Bodies: Female Illness in Italian Literature and Cinema (1860-1920) by Catherine Ramsey-Portolano
    Review by Catherine Nealy Judd
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra
    Review by Rita Ciresi
  • Most Precious Blood by Vince Sgambati
    Review by Marc DiPaolo
  • Now Chiefly Poetical by Kevin Di Camillo
    Review by Alan Gravano
    Letter from the Editor
    Carla A. Simonini

Dear Readers,

As I write this letter to introduce the Summer 2018 issue of Italian Americana I am seated in my new office at Loyola University Chicago, where I am honored to have been selected to serve as the founding Director and Paul and Ann Endowed Professor of Italian American Studies. The position exists as the result of a five-year fundraising campaign that netted $500,000 in contributions and a historic commitment on the part of Loyola University Chicago to match the funds and provide a home for the fledgling program. I approach my new position with due respect for the many constituents who supported the campaign, and hope to foster and grow a dynamic program that engages students, scholars, and the community at large in the critical study and historical preservation of the Italian experience in the New World. Naturally, the journal Italian Americana is coming with me. It is with some sadness that I announce that the current issue will be the last one produced with the support of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Youngstown State University (YSU).

I made a commitment that every issue of Italian Americana published at YSU would contain at least one piece that reflected upon the Italian- American experience of the greater Youngstown area, and I am pleased that this last issue hailing from the region features several such connections. Two of our contributors, Stephanie Ruozzo and Dom Fonce, are members of the YSU student family and respectively represent a younger generation of scholars and creative writers. Ruozzo is a distinguished alumna, with three undergraduate degrees: B.M. in Music Education, B.A. in Music History and B.S.E. in Italian Education. Currently a doctoral candidate in the musicology program at Case Western University, Ruozzo brings us a well-researched piece that synthesizes all her areas of interest in her examination of the means by which Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” has served as a rallying cry for Italian, and later Italian-American, self-determination. Dom Fonce is featured both as a visual artist and a poet. He took our cover photo of the bronze “The Next Journey Begins,” sculpted by Tom Antonishak and erected at Youngstown’s Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Basilica in 2008 to commemorate the one-hundred-year anniversary of the church’s founding as an Italian ethnic parish. Fonce has lived in the Cornersburg area of Youngstown since he was a child and is currently a YSU undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in English. He has won a number of writing scholarships and awards at YSU, most notably the Robert Hare Award for Poetry in 2016, and has had his poems published in other journals and magazines. His poem “My Mother’s Hair” is included in our poetry section. In addition, Fonce and his partner Nathaniel Stokes (a fellow undergrad English major at YSU), have created a Youngstown-based online literary magazine, Volney Road Review, which pays homage to Youngstown’s historic Idora Park neighborhood and Volney Rogers, the turn-of-the-century lawyer/civil activist who in 1893 realized the plans for the city’s Mill Creek Park, one of the largest metropolitan parks in the country. Finally, Youngstown gets a shout-out even in our interview section. In his interview of Boston Red Sox announcer Joe Castiglione, writer Richard Bonanno records Castiglione’s fond memories of Youngstown, where he met his wife and worked for two and a half years announcing Youngstown State University and local high school games. Small world?

Beyond our Youngstown-related pieces this issue offers a great deal of variety in its content and subjects, with threads running throughout each of our featured genres that tie diverse topics together, such as fascism, opera, story-telling, scholars, and sports. In addition to Ruozzo’s aforementioned article on Verdi, our articles section includes a detailed historical investigation of collaboration between Catholic priests and Italian fascist officials in the 1920s and 1930s. Scholar Valeria Federici focuses her research on Rhode Island and the means by which Italian-American women were encouraged to exchange their gold wedding bands for ones of steel as an act of affirmation of their Italian identity. Richard Bonanno’s interview with Joe Castiglione of the Boston Red Sox, meanwhile, is accompanied by Bob Musullo’s tribute piece to Michael Parenti, whom he dubs “an Italian-American leftist lion.” Musullo pays homage to Parenti and the many contributions he has made to American society as an intellectual, political activist, scholar, teacher, and writer.

Our featured poet, Thomas Centolella, in his introductory essay expounds upon “The Country Inside Me,” (i.e. the Italy that has been passed down to him through family lore but which he has never experienced for himself). The sense of connection to Italy as an ancestral land is echoed by the Boston Red Sox’s Joe Castiglione: When he is gifted a trip to anywhere in the world he would like to travel, he chooses Italy where he visits the town of Castiglione on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Our fiction and creative nonfiction section, under the direction of Christine Palamidessi Moore, continues to bring fresh voices and innovative works. In this issue we are pleased to publish three distinct pieces that traverse the space between Italy and Italian America through food, music, and language. Our book review section, managed and edited by John Paul Russo, once again offers our readers reviews of a wide variety of books, some published in Italy and others in the US. The books reviewed include scholarly monographs, novels, poetry anthologies, and a memoir.

Last but not least, I would like to give a special acknowledgement to our poetry editor, Maria Terrone, for not only selecting another group of diverse and evocative poems for this issue, but also for a debut book of essays, At Home in the New World (Bordighera Press), which will be published this fall. Congratulations, Maria! We will let our readers know when it is available for purchase.

I would like to once again thank my former chair, John Sarkissian, of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at YSU, for his unfailing support for Italian Americana as well as his efforts to secure me the time and resources necessary to make its publication possible. Extraspecial thanks go to Tom Slagle, whose role as editorial assistant was further complicated this journal cycle by my relocation to Chicago and the need to work on the issue remotely. Had it not been for his steadfast dedication and multi-faceted talents this issue would likely not have made it to press. I also want to offer Tom our heartfelt congratulations. In May he graduated with a Master’s degree in English with a focus in Professional and Technical Writing from YSU. Tom has made innumerable positive contributions Italian Americana over these past three years. I am sure our readership joins me in thanking him for his service and wishing him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors.

For updates and information on Italian Americana, especially with regard to the journal’s relocation to Loyola University Chicago, please consult our website: http://italianamericana.ysu.edu


Carla A. Simonini