Q&A with Italian American Writers Association

The Boston Book Festival is excited to welcome the Italian American Writers Association to our 2021 Lit Crawl event! Being a community dedicated to progressing and promoting the work of Italian American writers, they hope to spread awareness on the beauty of the Italian American experience with a poetry reading. Leading up to this event, we have decided to ask our participants, Julia Lisella and Jennifer Martelli, some questions regarding what to expect during their presentation. And don’t forget to grab you tickets now to their session at the Dial Restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge!

BBF: What can audiences look forward to and take away from your Lit Crawl presentation?

Julia and Jennifer: Audiences will hear some good contemporary poetry and learn some fun facts about Italian Americans in the arts and culture. They will be introduced to a vibrant Italian American writing community in the Boston area. 

BBF: You’ve chosen a round-robin poetry reading as your artistic platform and presentation piece. What do you think makes this an especially appropriate platform for expressing the themes of your own poetry?

Julia and Jennifer: We were originally going to do a straight reading, as a way to present our aesthetic as Italian American writers and curators: one of us would read for 10 minutes, followed by the next. We felt this was somewhat static, so the idea of a “round robin” came up. This would create movement in the reading—like a dance! It also creates surprise for both of us: how will one reader respond to the poem they hear? This is how we try to pair readers when we solicit features, and it also is its own “open mic,” which is always fun. This format underscores the collaboration we hope we’ve fostered with the IAWA reading series.  

BBF: Your session is titled “Two Italian Gals Walk Into a Bookstore: Creating a Community for IA Writers in Boston.” What kind of readers and writers are you hoping to attract to your community with this event? 

Julia and Jennifer: We’d like to make lovers of poetry and literature aware of this growing community of published writers, educators, and editors. Anyone interested in poetry should attend, whether they’re Italian or not. We run an open mic and we often get asked if you have to be Italian to participate in it, or read Italian themes, but we welcome anyone who would like to join us. Our features are writers of Italian descent and we are trying to increase awareness of Italian Americans in the literary world. 

BBF: As you have a sister organization in New York, how has that city as well as Boston influenced your works?  

Julia and Jennifer: There’s a lot of cross-over of influences in our own poetry. One of us is from New York; we both write about New York. But our work as organizers of the series has really been to grow the Boston community of writers. Since we’ve been on Zoom we’ve joined as one reading series. The Italian diaspora is complex: we’ve welcomed participants from across the US, from Canada, and from Europe.

Registrations for Lit Crawl 2021 are now open! Be sure to check out Julia and Jennifer with their poetry reading on June 10 at the Dial Restaurant’s rooftop in Cambridge. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance. You can read more about the Italian American Writers Association here


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