Friday, May 28, 2010
You had me at Arafalo ...
A while ago, Ben Spurr who writes for blogTO.com posted this very pleasant entry for a (Not So) Nice Italian Girls & Friends reading that I co-organized ...
Michelle Arafalo is a busy gal. Between time working as a co-editor at prestigious Canadian literary quarterly Descant, she's also a blogger and author in her own right. Her well-received 2008 book Made Up of Arias delved into the life of an Italian immigrant family, and her cultural background as an Italo-Canadian is her favourite source material. She helms a bill of like-minded Italian girls tonight for a reading of poetry and short stories.
Ai yi...much as I appreciate the kind words, I kind of wish my last name had been spelled correctly. He linked to this blog but the spelling of my last name is a mystery.
And it's interesting what's out there that's not exactly correct.
I volunteer with Descant (prestigious true) but, alas, I am not a paid employee. I am merely a minion, one of many.
My book Made Up of Arias (of which I am enormously proud) received very little critical attention because it was published by a small literary press which doesn't have much of a distribution channel (they are working on that though). I did get a very nice blurb from Nino Ricci, a colleague and a literary superstar here in Canada and around the world. So that was an enormous boost for me.
"Her cultural background as an Italo-Canadian is her favourite source material" - yeah, I will cop to that. But I'm trying to break free of that...after all, I am more than a female, more than Italo-Canadian, no? I hope I am. It's funny to be identified that way as I had striven so hard as a teenager and young adult to be free of that label. That's why I like the "(Not So) Nice Italian Girl" moniker so much - it's a cheeky subversion of the stereotype - an acknowledgment of what we aspire to be at times for our families and what we are truly.
The poster above says it all ... we so much want to be loved even for our transgressions as writers and artists. We fear the disapproval of familyand friends yet feel compelled to write in this fashion, to express what we really are: not so nice Italian girls.
Back in the day (this was the nineties), myself and a friend, LD, organized two readings: one was called "Nice Italian Girls" with female writers and the other was "Nice Italian Boys" with male writers at the Green Room in the Annex. It created a bit of a stir in the Italo-Canadian community and we got a lot of great press at the time.
LD and I became estranged. A baby and a career change later and the series was never continued.
Now carrying more than lipstick and a mortgage I moved on to trying to find financial stability for the famiglia and trying to write in a more consistent fashion.
When I had a landmark birthday recently I started thinking...when was I going to do those things that I had been thinking about but not acting on - like resurrecting the reading series? What are you waiting on girl, get a move on I thought.
So I sought out the assistance of friend and poet GR to organize the series. I asked the husband to help with posters and started to plumb the depths of my literary friendships. So far so good ... the series has been a satisfying experience - organizing readers, creating the posters, placing adverts, being the emcee on occasion. I've enjoyed it all.
Stay tuned for more "Not So Nice" literary action...