Leonard Covello Panel discussion at the Left Forum 2016

VITO MARCANTONIO FORUM Left Forum panel event 2016We are excited to be back at the Left Forum. 2016 looks like an action-packed lineup practically guarantees this year’s Forum will not disappoint. If you are interested in attending, you must purchase a ticket from the Left Forum. You can try calling them (good luck) at the Left Forum Office at (212) 817-2002.

This year’s Forum event is being held at

 John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W 59th St, New York, NY 10019

The panel discussion and presentation will be informative and entertaining — BELIEVE THAT!!!

Here is the program:

VMF Left Forum panel event 2016 program

ITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE book presentation

VMF AUTHOR SERIES presents

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTUREITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE, 1890-1940, by Marcella Bencivenni 

Wednesday, May 18th 2016, 5:00-6:45 PM

Prof. Gerald Meyer will chair a discussion of ITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE, 1890-1940, by Marcella Bencivenni. Italian/English bilingual readings of Arturo Giovanitti’s poetry by VMF members: Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, & Roberto  Ragone.

Where: NYPL Mulberry St. Branch,  10 Jersey St., NY, corner of Mulberry & Prince Sts., one block south of Houston St.

Books available for purchase.
Free admission, light  refreshments served

marcella bencivenni

Author Marcella Bencivenni

VMF AUTHOR SERIES
This event is co-hosted with Italian American Writers Association (IAWA)

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) is an educational organization dedicated to preserving the history of the radical political tradition of East Harlem, the cultural backdrop of Italian Harlem and El Barrio and increasing awareness of the American Labor Party that Marcantonio led for years; and the critical role of the Left that rallied to Marcantonio.

The Italian American Writers Association will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2016. Since 1991, IAWA has given voice to writers through its literary series every second Saturday of the months. Readings begin with an Open Mic: IAWA-East is held even months at Sidewalk Café and IAWA-West continues at Cornelia Street Café on odd months.

Website: iawa.net
BLOG: italian american writers café http://newsite.iitaly.org/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/italianamericanwritersassociation

Video of Nelson A. Denis book presentation of War Against All Puerto Ricans

Vito Marcantonio Forum founding member, David M. Giglio, has produced another masterpiece. It’s important that people see it, so please share it on social media, email blasts, and whatever platform you prefer.

Nelson A. Denis’ War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony,  has excellent reviews and it is highly recommended that you purchase the book here.

It’s difficult to describe how moving Denis is… perhaps this picture of the crowd on hand at the event will give you an idea of how enthralling each performance was:

vito marcantonio forum with nelson denis book presentation crowd shot 2016

vito marcantonio forum with nelson denis book presentation crowd shot 2016

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTURE by Marcella Bencivenni

Join the Vito Marcantonio Forum Wednesday May 18th, 2016 from 5pm-6:45pm at the Mulberry St Public Library at 10 Jersey St (bet Mulberry and Lafayette Sts), New York, NY 10012 | FREE EVENT | Light refreshments served

Marcella Bencivenni’s Book Presentation

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTUREItalian Immigrant Radical Culture: The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940

287 pages

23 halftones

May, 2011

ISBN: 9780814791035

Maligned by modern media and often stereotyped, Italian Americans possess a vibrant, if largely forgotten, radical past. In Italian Immigrant Radical Culture, Marcella Bencivenni delves into the history of the sovversivi, a transnational generation of social rebels, and offers a fascinating portrait of their political struggle as well as their milieu, beliefs, and artistic creativity in the United States.

marcella bencivenni

Marcella Bencivenni

As early as 1882, the sovversivi founded a socialist club in Brooklyn. Radical organizations then multiplied and spread across the country, from large urban cities to smaller industrial mining areas. By 1900, thirty official Italian sections of the Socialist Party along the East Coast and countless independent anarchist and revolutionary circles sprang up throughout the nation. Forming their own alternative press, institutions, and working class organizations, these groups created a vigorous movement and counterculture that constituted a significant part of the American Left until World War II.

Italian Immigrant Radical Culture compellingly documents the wide spectrum of this oppositional culture and examines the many cultural and artistic forms it took, from newspapers to literature and poetry to theater and visual art. As the first cultural history of Italian American activism, it provides a richer understanding of the Italian immigrant experience while also deepening historical perceptions of radical politics and culture.

REVIEWS

  • Italian Immigrant Radical Culture not only makes an important contribution to the history of the Italian-American left but, more broadly, reminds us of the importance of the cultural and literary dimension of radical politics in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century.”

    —Fraser Ottanelli, Professor of History, University of South Florida

  • “A welcome introduction to the poorly understood immigrant sovversivi, whose ideological commitments to revolution and emancipation as often found expression in poetry, theater, and the arts as on the picket line and in the radical press.”

    —Donna Gabaccia, University of Minnesota

  • “Utilizing a broad spectrum of materials from Italian archives and American repositories, Bencivenni penetrates deeply into a hitherto unexplored dimension of the lost world of Italian immigrant radicalism—its culture. With acute insight and intellectual sophistication, she provides a superb analysis of radical working-class poetry, drama, and art, together with vivid biographical portraits of principal contributors, both men and women, and their struggles against capitalist exploitation and fascist domination. Her book is a must for any scholar or general reader drawn to these fascinating subjects.”

    —Nunzio Pernicone, author of Italian Anarchism, 1864-1892

  • “Anyone interested in the topic will benefit from Bencivenni’s deep understanding of her subject, her exhaustive research, and her clear organization and writing.”

    —R.J. Goldstein, Choice

  • “Bencivenni has written an impressive book that nicely complements existing studies on Italian immigrants. It deserves a wide audience.”

    —Mike Rosenow, H-Net Reviews

  • “Marcella Bencivenni contributes to the growing literature of the sovversivi (subversives) but with a new twist… Bencivenni’s superb analysis of the importance of the cultural and literal dimension of radical politics and her biographical portraits of its stars ensure that the works of these men and women will have a lasting legacy in American radical history.”

    —Diane C. Vecchio, Furman University

  • “Bencivenni’s superb analysis of the importance of the cultural and literary dimension of radical politics and her biographical portraits of its stars ensure that the works of these men and women will have a lasting legacy in American radical history.”

    —Diane C. Vecchio, The Journal of American History

  • “A great book that will benefit well-established scholars, newly minted Ph.D.’s, and graduate students thinking about distinct avenues of research.”

    —Caroline Merithew, Italian American Review

  • “Sheds illuminating light on a part of that history that is often overlooked, and in doing so revitalizes a radical tradition.”

    —Stefan Bosworth, Science & Society

Nelson A. Denis Book Presentation at the Mulberry St Library

April 6th, 2016
Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library

War Against all Puerto Ricans: Revolution & Terror in America’s Colony
– Nelson A. Denis, Nation Books, NY 2015

Nelson A. Denis book presentation poster 2016 Vito Marcantonio ForumGil Fagiani brought the night’s event to order. Over 40 attendees heard a brief summary of the Many events the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) has organized through the year and the VMF members who contributed their time and talents to these events. He officially opened the night’s event by reciting the Litany of San Vito, a poem he wrote and dedicated to the late, great congressman from East Harlem, New York City, who the VMF models their nonprofit after.

Nelson A. Denis began by giving some background of U.S. involvement in Puerto Rico; for example, by introducing U.S. dollars and eliminating the Puerto Rican peso (the Spanish peso)—in this exchange—the latter currency lost 40% of its value, thereby causing widespread poverty, loss of many businesses, collapse of banks and numerous financial institutions. Four corporations ended up owning almost half of all the sugar fields of the entire island.

Gil Fagiani, Nelson Denis, Roberto Ragone

Gil Fagiani, Nelson Denis, Roberto Ragone

“Vito Marcantonio was the most able, courageous, and principled defenders and friend of the Puerto Rican people. Much more principled than most Puerto Rican politicians of the times,” said Mr. Denis.

Denis’ presentation was energetic and impassioned. The audience felt his beliefs and outrage as he described the violent repression unleashed on the opponents of American intervention.

After the book presentation, Roberto Ragone, co-chairman of the VMF, ably dramatized two Vito Marcantonio speeches. At the end of the performance he received an enthusiastic applause and praise from Mr. Denis and the audience. Denis’ talk and Ragone’s performance blended together seamlessly to give flesh and form to Denis’ words.

Nelson A. Denis with Vito Marcantonio Forum Treasurer, Adam Milat-Meyer

Nelson A. Denis with Vito Marcantonio Forum Treasurer, Adam Milat-Meyer

The efforts by Gil Fagiani in organizing this event must not go unnoticed. His labors of putting on this event manifested themselves in the excellent presentations of Mr. Ragone, the impassioned and sometimes humorous words of Mr. Denis, and the support and intelligent curiosity displayed by the audience which filled the room at the Mulberry Street Public Library.

The group thanks David Giglio for filming the event, which soon will be released on this site (please check back frequently). The Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library for providing the event space deserves much thanks as well. Last but not least, Nelson A. Denis for his inspirational and fascinating presentation and Q&A discussion.

Click on the following link to purchase the book:
War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson A. Denis.  

Luis Romero
Cofounder/blogger of the VMF

WAR ON ALL PUERTO RICANS: REVOLUTION AND TERROR IN AMERICA’S COLONY

VMF’s AUTHORS SERIES PRESENTS:

NELSON DENIS and HIS BEST SELLING

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS: REVOLUTION AND TERROR IN AMERICA’S COLONY
Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 5-6:45 PM  

Vito Marcantonio Forum presents a book presentation on war against all puerto ricans by nelson a denis

WHAT:
VMF Authors Series panel discussion followed by Q&A

WHO:
Nelson Denis
discusses WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

Gil Fagiani, VMF co-founder, will moderate discussion. Roberto Ragone, will deliver dramatic readings of Marcantonio’s speeches about Puerto Rico

WHERE:
NYPL Mulberry St. Branch,  10 Jersey St., NY, between Mulberry & Lafayette Sts., one block south of Houston St.

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS BY NELSON A DENISADMISSION:
Free Admission, light refreshments will be served

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) is an educational organization dedicated to preserving the history of the radical political tradition of East Harlem, the cultural backdrop of Italian Harlem and El Barrio and increasing awareness of the American Labor Party that Marcantonio led for years; and the critical role of the Left that rallied to Marcantonio. 

LuLu LoLo Pascale MAS Podcast Interview

LuLu LoLo Pascale, one of our founding members, mentions Vito Marcantonio in a breakthrough, in-depth podcast interview. She also talks about her many endeavors and longtime dedication to projects like #RememberTheTriangle and much, more.

It couldn’t have been said better in the notes for the show:

LuLu LoLo PascaleNew York City has over a hundred monuments honoring specific men who’ve changed the course of history and made significant contributions to our communities. But guess how many women are up on pedestals in this city? Here’s a sad hint: you can count them on your fingers. One hand, even. Performance artist, playwright, and overall activist LuLu LoLo is on a mission to change that. In this Women’s History Month podcast episode, Lulu tells us about her latest venture, “Where are the Women? A Call for Monuments of Women in NYC,” and reminisces about growing up in East Harlem, a neighborhood where strong women (including the city’s first Puerto Rican librarian) graced every block.

Annual Sagra del Libro Book Fair in Little Italy, NYC

Gerald Meyer at IAWA and Order Sons of Italy in America Book Fair February 26 2016

Dr. Gerald Meyer, VMF co-chairman, giving a talk about his book, Vito Marcantonio, Radical Politician 1902-1954.

Friday, February 26, 2016
The Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) kicked off its 25th anniversary with the Sagra del Libro Book Fair. This event represents an historic collaboration between the Order of the Sons of Italy, Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge #285 and Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) that was initiated by IAWA’s recently departed Board Member and friend, Emelise Aleandri and was, in fact, dedicated to her memory.

All, not just Italian American authors, publishers, literary event organizers and artists displayed, read out loud and sold their books, materials, and services at the Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge #285 at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, often referred to as the San Gennaro Feast Church at 113 Baxter Street in the heart of Little Italy, New York City.

In past years on a Sunday in May most bookstores remained open in Italy to support and promote its writers. This initiative was called “Celebrazione dei Libri” (Celebration of Books). IAWA’s Sagra del Libro continues in the spirit of that movement by celebrating Italian-American literary culture and including other cultures as well.

Authors Anna fillameno with Gigi Sssante and Maria Lisella

Authors Anna Filameno with Gigi Assante and Maria Lisella

Besides the co-sponsors — the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA), and the Order of the Sons of Italy in America, other organizations and their members attended.

Eight Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) members participated, five of whom are published authors, who aside from retailing their published works, took turns at the podium giving talks about their respective research.

Side by side with VMF was the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition representative, Rose Imperato, who brought flyers about the annual commemoration event scheduled for Wednesday, March 23 at the sight of one of the worst industrial tragedies in U.S. history. On March 25, volunteers are invited to Chalk for the Triangle Workers. Visit http://rememberthetrianglefire.org/events/month/

Gil Fagiani and Maria Lisella are founding members of both the VMF and along with Bob Agnoli who chaired the Sagra are also Board members of IAWA. The Church of the Most Precious Blood generously provided the venue for the event.

Maria Lisella
@MLJourneys
VMF Vice President

Mark Fasanella documentary and Gil Fagiani’s latest book.

This past weekend was action-packed with VMF-related events that were both a success! On Saturday, February 20th 2016, Sherri Machlin, of The Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library, hosted a screening of two movies riveting Italian American classics:

Its One Family Knock on Wood1pm: It’s One Family – Knock on Wood (1982) – Orlando Furioso is a five foot tall performer living in Brooklyn, and is made of wood. Fifty years ago he was carved from oak and given a suit of armor by Papa Manteo and his children, Orlando’s sword still flashes on a stage. In It’s One Family: Knock On Wood, we meet puppeteers Mike and Aida Manteo, their children and grandchildren, a family bound together by a Sicilian folk tradition that dates back to the 16th Century. Mike still builds marionettes; Aida sews capes and gowns; on stage, Orlando woos Angelica in the court of Charlemagne, as the entire family works together to entertain audiences across America. Directed by Tony DeNonno. Runtime – 24 minutes.

Ralph Fasanella documentary

Ralph Fasanella painting one of his great masterpieces.

1:30pm Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City (1981) – A film documenting the life and art of Ralph Fasanella, a self-taught painter born in Greenwich Village in 1914. Raised in a struggling immigrant Italian-American family, Fasanella grew up to become a school truant, laborer and union organizer before discovering his true vocation as a painter. Working within the broad tradition of “social primitivism”, the artist, through his detailed canvases, interweaves scenes of his troubled youth, urban landscapes, labor history and social-political causes. Runtime – 25 minutes. VMF Vice President, Maria Lisella will give a short introduction before the film is shown.

Gil Fagiani during the Q&A with a longtime friend of Mark Fasanella

Gil Fagiani (right) during the Q&A with a longtime friend of Ralph Fasanella

Following the screening, Gil Fagiani, longtime member of the VMF said, “I’ve been asked to say a few words about Fasanella, who I gave a lifetime achievement award to at an event back in 1992… Still, I didn’t really know him personally like two of the people we are fortunate enough to have here today.” Two longtime friends of Fasanella recounted delightful memories of the life and times of Ralph Fasanella.

The second event that took place was on Sunday February 21st 2016 at the Gallery Gaiga on 79 Hudson Avenue at Front Street in Brooklyn for the launching of Gil Fagiani’s latest book, Logos. The Resistance Reeding Series sponsored an Evening of poetry and prose hosted by Tsaurah Litsky.

Gil Fagiani’s book recently got an excellent review by Mark Fogarty:

Gil Fagiani LOGOSThe great jazz-rock-folk singer Tim Buckley once told his friend and lead guitarist Lee Underwood that taking heroin made him feel as if he was walking in the clouds. That’s a modest example of what I call junkie porn, the romanticizing of something not really romantic (heroin gave Buckley an exit into the clouds for good when he was just 28). Gil Fagiani’s visceral book of poems  Logos is all about junkiedom and recovery, but there’s little junkie porn in it.

No, the poems in Logos tend toward the bleak and harrowing side of addiction (perhaps there is porn to be had there too, but at least it’s in aid of a useful end) and the bleak but hopeful process of recovery. Alluded to in Fagiani’s previous book of poems, Stone Walls, here his addiction is in full and ugly bloom. Fagiani missed Woodstock, for instance, when a last-minute urge to cop left him overdosed and cut by broken glass and robbed by the junkie rescuers who took him to the hospital. The active-junkie part of the book (called “Shooting Dope with Trotsky”) is full of puke and rot and weasel-like junkie business like stealing from and betraying those closest to you. It is ugly and depressing.

But if you are looking for a reprieve when Fagiani checks into rehab at a place called Logos, you won’t find it. To say Logos facilitates recovery through tough love would be a total understatement. Their treatments are violent and vicious, to the point where reading about them is as depressing as reading about active junkie business. However, Logos seems to have set Fagiani on the path to decades of recovery so there is that for a good result.

The poems of Logos are prosy, anecdotal, differentiated from actual prose only by artful line breaks and well-organized stanzas. They read easily and are powerful and gripping, though often stomach-turning at the same time. The individual stories of many people who fail the program (and sometimes are physically tossed out into the street) and their invariably bad outcomes are nothing but distressing.

There’s an entertaining revolt against the Logos universe (the founder is called “The Great Him”) that results in an alt-Logos amid a Sixties-Seventies mise-en-scene of revolutionary fervor that includes the rhetoric of another Great Him, Mao Tse Tung. There is also a helpful glossary of junkie and recovery terms for those who don’t know the lingo, and, as in his earlier book, a discography of songs that form the soundtrack to a landscape that resembles hell a lot more than heaven.

The above review originally appeared on attheinkwell.com 

Ralph Fasanella movie screening this weekend!

Movie Screenings at the Mulberry St branch of the New York Public Library this Saturday, February 20, 2016, 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Maria Lisella, Vice President of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, has been instrumental in helping put together two events happening this weekend in New York City. Join us for an afternoon of 16mm films celebrating the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Little Italy, in conjunction with our NYPL Community Oral History Project! 
  • 1pm: It’s One Family – Knock on Wood (1982) – Orlando Furioso is a five foot tall performer living in Brooklyn, and is made of wood. Fifty years ago he was carved from oak and given a suit of armor by Papa Manteo and his children, Orlando’s sword still flashes on a stage. In It’s One Family: Knock On Wood, we meet puppeteers Mike and Aida Manteo, their children and grandchildren, a family bound together by a Sicilian folk tradition that dates back to the 16th Century. Mike still builds marionettes; Aida sews capes and gowns; on stage, Orlando woos Angelica in the court of Charlemagne, as the entire family works together to entertain audiences across America. Directed by Tony DeNonno. Runtime – 24 minutes.
  • 1:30pm Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City (1981) – A film documenting the life and art of Ralph Fasanella, a self-taught painter born in Greenwich Village in 1914. Raised in a struggling immigrant Italian-American family, Fasanella grew up to become a school truant, laborer and union organizer before discovering his true vocation as a painter. Working within the broad tradition of “social primitivism”, the artist, through his detailed canvases, interweaves scenes of his troubled youth, urban landscapes, labor history and social-political causes. Runtime – 25 minutes. VMF Vice President, Maria Lisella will give a short introduction before the film is shown.
If you are unfamiliar with the life and times of the great Ralph Fasanella, you should check this video produced by Italics: