Stereotyping is among the top issues that Italian-American face today. Efforts have been, and are currently, being implemented to greatly lessen this issue or finally put an end to it. And the people who are behind it are those that are being affected themselves.
Changing society’s perspective
Words have always been a powerful tool in changing society’s perspective. And it is through words that Anthony Tamburri and Paolo Giordano chose to battle stereotyping. No, they didn’t do it with petitions and shouting their lungs in the streets. They did it through a publishing house.
Tamburri and Giordano are from Stamford where they graduated high school and later earned their degree in advance language and literature at Southern Connecticut State University.
Back in 1980s when both were teaching for a living, they got together with a fellow Italian-American, one Fred Gardaphe who was scholar from the Chicago area. The three planned to compile an anthology called “From the Margins: Writings in Italian Americana”.
Not long after the inception of the idea they hit a cul-de-sac. They have too many materials in hand.
Another problem was that no publishing houses at that time were interested in a veritable Italian-American experience. They’ve also bump to a stereotype in which the publishing houses are far more interested in writers who are creating stories based on organized crimes rather than an Italian’s experience in the land of the free.
As was the case, the three decided to start their own publishing house. And so it was in 1989 that they founded Bordighera Press, named after Giordano’s seaside town from which he was born.
The Bordighera Press today
The house started publishing a journal, then increased it to about four books a year, according to its founder Tamburri who’s currently working as both dean and professor at a University in New York.
To this day the Bordighera has published 180 titles ranging from essays, poetry, and fiction.
Gil Fagiani is one of their published poets. He’s from Stamford himself though it was quite a while before he knew Tamburri also hailed from where he was from.
The Bodighera launched Fagiani’s latest collection of poems last March 18. The poetry collection, “Stone Walls,” mostly revolves around Fagiani’s young life peppered with his rather distant relationship with his father, to whom he dedicates it.
The poem “First Born” for instance, focuses on his arrival in Stamford, the dialects, the familiar close family ties of his neighbors, and the food that the Italians have shared with the country and its cultural aspect.
Fagiani explained that Stone Walls isn’t centered on his colorful Italian background but rather about “the good, the bad, and the in-between.”
Tamburri and Giordano didn’t end the stereotyping that is being suffered by their fellow Italian-Americans, but they certainly did their part in dulling its edges.
Through their effort and success, they managed to show the world that Italians are people of intelligence capable of great accomplishments and who can contribute in society’s cultural progress.