English professor wins Bordighera Poetry Prize

Professor Tony Magistrale of the UVM English department was recently selected as the 2007 winner of the Bordighera Poetry Prize, according to a University Communications press release. Magistrale was selected for his manuscript “What She Says About Love”, a collection of poems that have been compiled over the last 25 years, Magistrale said. Magistrale said that the manuscript is divided into two halves; the first being about Europe and the second more of a collection of poems from various sources that still speak to the concept of “she” that is referenced in the title. Some of the poems about Europe were written while Professor Magistrale was overseas, some were written while he was here and some are about memories of his time in Europe, he said. Magistrale is often asked what the title of the manuscript refers to. He said, “the ‘she’ is a lot of different ‘shes.’ Sometimes it’s my wife, sometimes it’s women that I see on the street, sometimes it’s a mythological female, sometimes it’s Italy. The ‘she’ is a very amorphous pronoun and some of the ‘shes’ are even from television and from movies.” The subject matter of the poems are as varied as the wide-ranging definitions of “she,” Magistrale said. “Some of them are love poems, bizarre love poems. Some of them are about an image that’s been sparked and then turned into a poem. So some of them are not even re?ally poems, some of them are about fantasy projections of images.” Magistrale saw the contest advertised in the magazine Poets and Writers and he “submitted the whole manuscript but changed the way I had it formulated in terms of its content, so the Italian poems were way up front. I think these are the poems that I probably worked on the hardest, so it’s great that they were the ones that really sold the manuscript.” According to the Italian American Writers Web site, the Bordighera Press and the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Charitable Foundation have sponsored the annual prize since 1997, which is designed to find the best manuscripts of poetry by an American poet of Italian descent. The Web site explains that Tony Magistrale was born in Buffalo, New York, and is the grandson of Italian immigrants from Bari, Italy. The Bordighera Press will hire an Italian translator and will print a bilingual edition of the collection because “part of this prize is about preserving the Italian language in America,” Magistrale said. In addition to the book contract, winning this contest includes a cash prize for both Magistrale and the translator of his poems, according to the University Communications press release. The contest was run by “four judges [who] went through 72 manuscripts, then it was vetted to 10. Then Michael Pama, who is a distinguished poet himself, vetted the 10 down to one and I won,” said Magistrale. Magistrale will be honored for his work at a ceremony, reception, and reading that is being held on Nov. 8 at the City University of New York, according to the University Communications press release.