Italian Canadian Writing

From its beginnings, Italian Canadian writing has existed in English, French and Italian. Early 20th century poet Liborio Lattoni wrote in Italian while Francesco M. Gualtieri published in English. La Ville sans femmes (1945) by Mario Duliani appeared in French and Italian. Gianni Grohovaz, Elena Randaccio and Guglielmo Vangelisti (author of Gli Italiani in Canada, 1956), who published in the 1950s in Italian, were followed by authors who actively participated in both the growth of Canadian literature and the flowering of MULTICULTURALISM, thus making an impact on mainstream English and French Canadian writing.

The breakthrough came with Roman Candles (1978) a poetry anthology edited by Pier Giorgio DI CICCO. The bilingual tradition continued with Alexandre Amprimoz's Selected Poems (1979) and Sur le damier des tombes (1983); Filippo Salvatore's Suns of Darkness (1980) and La Fresque de Mussolini (1985); Romano Perticarini's Quelli della fionda (1981); Maria Ardizzi's Made in Italy (1982); and Antonio D'Alfonso's The Other Shore (1986) and L'Autre rivage (1999). Poets outnumbered novelists in the 1980s and received awards and recognition through inclusion in major anthologies. The narrative verse of Pier Giorgio Di Cicco's The Tough Romance (1979), Mary DI MICHELE's Mimosa and Other Poems (1981), George Amabile's The Presence of Fire (1982), Len Gasparini's Breaking and Entering (1980), and Gianna Patriarca's Italian Women and Other Tragedies (1994) show strong autobiographical elements. Diverse themes began to appear in the books of younger poets: Pasquale Verdicchio (The House Is Past, 2000), Mary Melfi (Stages: Selected Poems, 1998), Dore Michelut, Sante Viselli, and Genni Gunn.

In fiction, authors focused on chronicling the immigrant experience. F.G. PACI's Black Madonna (1982) and Under the Bridge (1992) are novels in the realist tradition. Caterina Edwards's The Lion's Mouth (1982) and Island of the Nightingales (1994), and Marisa De Francheschi's Surface Tension (1994) explore women's views on ethnic identity. In Peter Oliva's Drowning in Darkness (1993), the narrators experiment with magic realism.

When Nino Ricci won the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD in fiction for Lives of the Saints (1990), many Italian Canadian writers began to receive more attention. Anecdotal stories by Dino Minni (Other Selves, 1985), Darlene Madott (Bottled Roses, 1985, and Joy, Joy, Why Do I Sing, 2004), Michael Mirolla (The Formal Logic of Emotion, 1991), Genni Gunn (On the Road, 1991), Delia De Santis (Fast Forward, 2008), and Licia Canton (Almond Wine and Fertility, 2008) highlight the ironies and joys of life on the margins of mainstream society. There are also a number of plays by Caterina Edwards, Marco Micone, Mary Melfi, Vittorio Rossi, Frank Canino and Tony Nardi that critiqued the immigrant experience.

In Quebec, Italian writers are identified by their diversity: Tonino Caticchio's poems in Roman dialect; Dominique De Pasquale's French plays; Bianca Zagolin's French novels; Elettra Bedon's Italian stories; Lisa Carducci's poems in French and Italian; Marco Fraticelli's English haiku poems; Corrado Mastropasqua's Neapolitan poems; and Camillo Menchini's histories in Italian. The two most successful writers are Fulvio Caccia, who won a Governor General's Award for French poetry with Aknos (1994) and is also known for his short stories and essays, and Marco Micone who has won awards for his plays Gens du silence (1982) and Addolorata (1984). Carole David and Antonio D'Alfonso both experiment with French prose-poems and poetic narratives.

Italian Canadian literature became recognized through the critical attention it received in literary studies: Contrasts (1985) and Echo (1994) by J. Pivato, Devils in Paradise (1997) by P. Verdicchio; work by Francesco Loriggio and anthologies by C.M. Di Giovanni, F. Caccia, M. De Franceschi and V. Fazio. The Association of Italian Canadian Writers was founded in 1986 by a number of the writers listed above.

See alsoETHNIC LITERATURE; ITALIANS.