Wednesday, April 13, 2022



In collaboration with Filomena D’Andrea as MAKARDÌA
A song of resistance.
Words: Filomena D’Andrea
Voice: Angela Paolantonio
Sound: Renato Celano
Art: Giovanni Spiniello



I don't wave sovereign states

Because their flags stink of blood

Because history is full of errors

And not divided into bad and good.

I don't raise border stakes

They’ve colored them to fool the children

Some try to cross the sea again
Hoping to avoid a military line

I want to raise my fist with a thousand others
I want to take to the streets like a thousand and one stars
Because no man is born to be killed
Because bread is made to be broken

I want to raise the rainbow flag
The drawings of the children, an olive branch

Because they taught me that we are equal and free

We live everywhere and there is no king or queen

That we are not divided into black and white

In Christians, Muslims or Jews
That my children are of the world
And the children of the world are mine too

That war is a horror

Yesterday today and tomorrow

As for the powerful

Who steal bread

Take off your military shirt

And hat from your head

We are the deserters

We are thirsty for spring

We are the deserters

Of this long evening


Tuesday, April 12, 2022


With great appreciation and thanks for the lovely mention in Bell’Italia’s profile oCalitri by giornalista and saggista Manuela Piancastelli. The Ghosts of Italy.
The Venezia issueApril 2022 EditionCover photography by Andrea Pistolesi.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

“amr'càna” -- Letter to an unknown editor.

Letter to an unknown editor.
Calitri AV Italy
“Di Angela Paolantonio non sapevamo niente, neppure che esistesse, fino al 2007. Quell’anno l’abbiamo conosciuta grazie a un suo scritto sul New York Times. Il pezzo, corredato di foto di una Calitri dai colori intensi sotto un cielo che preparava un temporale, ci rivelò il paese in cui da generazioni abitiamo in modo inedito, quasi mitico.

*So begins a piece of writing, (a response?) from Alfonso Nannariello on the eve of both of our nascent writing (and teaching) careers.*

Questa suggestione l’ho avuta confermata leggendo ogni altro scritto di Paolantonio apparso sulla rivista della Pro Loco di Calitri, L’Ofanto, con la quale ha trattenuto per alcuni anni una significativa collaborazione non solo come scrittrice analista dei luoghi di una sua memoria recuperata, ma anche come fotografa.

*The writer /  professor continues to engage his audience with a time-honoured memoirists tool comparing himself and thus his readers with his subjects’ world view in this case la “amr'càna.”*

La visione inedita che Angela fornisce del paese di cui io stesso scrivo e da sempre abito è dovuta all’effetto della sorpresa ancora viva dovuta al ritrovamento di un suo reperto archeologico: le radici della sua famiglia. Della sua nonna paterna in particolare, di cui, proprio come un archeologo, ha seguito le tracce che le hanno consentito di avere una visione più precisa di sé. Visione corredata di foto, di volti, di atteggiamenti, di riti, di miti, di modi di dire e di inflessioni linguistiche di cui si è riappropriata. La dimensione mitica della sua scrittura è dovuta all’innocenza del sentire, molto vicina all’innocenza della prima primavera del mondo e a quella dell’infanzia di ogni bambino.

*He then proposes, let’s say predicts, his fellow memorist’s journey into the land of her own subconscious.* 

Riappropriatasi degli elementi della nostra cultura e delle nostre tradizioni, Angela Paolantonio ha compiuto mediazioni culturali, mediandole con le forme della sua cultura originaria, quella americana. In questa veste di mediatrice culturale ha contribuito artisticamente e intellettualmente a divulgare la storia delle forme e delle nostre tradizioni non solo di Calitri ma di parte dell’Alta Irpinia, tanto con la scrittura quanto con la fotografia.
          Alfonso Nannariello 
Professore Teoria Religioso e Filosofia”

*It has been more than ten years since I received this letter, delivered personally by Nannariello. I no longer remember why apart from the mention of the NYT profile that at the time a few years earlier thrust Calitri (and myself) onto the national stage. Yet I have saved it all these years.

We were both writers for L’Ofanto, Calitri’s once loved historic quarterly journal. We wrote personal history pieces and postcards from far flung places long before social media likes (and the absence of likes) defined one’s popularity or solidarity with one’s community. We were simply part of an editorial team of local venerable contributors some of whom went on to further their creative careers to far flung places. In essence I did the reverse. I would soon transfer from the new world to this smaller meta-verse to the consternation and surprise of many friends and family. Nannariello simply stayed. His letter would ground me to a place and a myth with more emotional history than even I would come to know or discover.*

Rest in power Alfonso Nannariello 1/24/2022

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Interstellar Friendship

I have a very sweet bookish friend who lives in Italy.

Angela recently emailed to tell me about the bitterly cold rain that had fallen on her village in Campania. She correctly assumed that I would understand and empathize. “How do you live way up there in snow-land as a permanent thing?” she asked. (“Way up there in snow-land” referring to my home state of Wisconsin.)

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” I quipped. I proceeded to extol the virtues of my Sorel snow boots and Smartwool socks, but in hindsight, I don’t think that’s what Angela was getting at.

Rather than listen to me prattle on about my outdoor gear, Angela probably wanted to understand how we Northerners do it—how we gaze at an often-sunless winter horizon and find a sense of hope in the unceasing shades of gray and lavender. It’s an apt question, because surviving these dark and bone-chilling months isn’t for the faint of heart.


have you ever stood on the icy shore of a frozen body of water and listened to it? I mean really listened to it?

I just spent a long weekend in the Northwoods, which is my favorite place on earth and the setting of Crossing the Pressure Line. During one of my many hikes—because I make myself spend time outside every day, even when the weather hovers in the single digits—I watched the moon rise over a white and seemingly lifeless lake. It was only 4:20 P.M., but already nighttime felt like a heavy blanket.

In the hushed stillness of the gloaming, it would’ve been easy for me to imagine that everything was simply dead. But then the lake moaned, sounding not unlike a whale. I grinned into the moonlight, and the lake called out to me again. And again. Under my many layers of Smartwool, my body broke out in joyful goosebumps.

If you’ve never been up north in the winter, you might not realize that sheets of lake-ice can shift, which generates a variety of noises—pops and creaks, of course, but also groans and grumbles. A deep and eerie cry that sounds just like an owl. And, most thrillingly, the unearthly zing of a Star Wars Lightsaber.

You guys, those iced-over lakes are alive. Glorious things are happening beneath their surface, at every moment. Things we can’t see, but that remind us that the natural world carries on in spite of—because of—the frigid temperatures and frequent blizzards.

The next time my friend Angela asks me how I manage to stay warm here in the frozen tundra, I will tell her about the lakes. I will try to describe how I’m able to find courage when those whale-calls land upon my ears.

I know that Angela has chestnut-tree forests and fields of grain to greet her when she opens her balcony door in Italy, but I’ve got something very sturdy and character-building right here in Wisconsin, if I just go outside and listen.