Daniela Gioseffi

Daniela Gioseffi, 2006

Daniela Gioseffi (b. 1941) is a poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and performer who won the American Book Award in 1990 for Women on War; International Writings from Antiquity to the Present [1] . First published in 1988 during the Cold War, by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster: NY, it was re-issued in an all new edition at the dawn of the Iraq War with many women of the Mid-East added, by The Feminist Press of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2003. It was the first book of world literature to gather the global voices of women on the issues of war effecting their lives. It won the American Book Award in 1990 [1]. Gioseffi is editor of PoetsUSA.com [2] which features accomplished, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning poets. Gioseffi was among the first Italian American women writers to be widely published in the main stream of American poetry [3]. She has published fourteen books of poetry and prose and won a PEN American Center’s Short Fiction prize 1995, and The John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry, 2007. Her verse was chosen to be etched in marble on a wall of the 7th Avenue Concourse of New York City’s Pennsylvania Station, with verses by Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams. Gioseffi was featured on the Library of Congress Radio Show, The Poet and the Poem [4] sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts in 1996 and 2006. The radio show includes Poets Laureate of the USA and is widely syndicated throughout the country. She has been interviewed and recited poetry on National Public Radio and the BBC in London and Oxford. Gioseffi has presented her work on campuses and in cultural centers throughout the USA and in Europe. Women on War was translated into German and published in Vienna. Gioseffi’s biography appears in Feminists Who Changed America, 1963–1975[5], an encyclopedia from the University of Illinois Press. She is also included in Who's Who in America, The Directory of American Poets & Writers[6], and Contemporary Authors, as well as several other sources on the internet.



A peace and social justice activist, Gioseffi began her career as a Civil Rights worker and journalist for WSLA-TV in Selma, Alabama in 1961 during the era of the Freedom Riders and Sit-in demonstrations for integration of African Americans into American social institutions and schools. Gioseffi was graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, 1963 and awarded a scholarship for academic excellence and acting ability by The National Players to The Catholic University of America where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in World Drama, 1977 -- and attended with such notables as Susan Sarandon, Academy Award winning actress, and Michael Christopher, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Gioseffi's first writings were for the stage for which she won an award from The New York State Council for the Arts, funded by The National Endowment for the Arts for her poem-plays Care of the Body and The Sea Hag in the Cave of Sleep in 1971 produced Off Broadway in New York City. They are both feminist in theme. Prior to that she played in classical roles, Shakespeare, Congreve, Molière, with the National Players’ Touring Repertory Company out of Washington, D.C. (1964–66.) In 1977. She won a second award grant funded by The New York State Council for the Arts, of The National Endowment for the Arts, for poems contained in her first collection of poetry, Eggs in the Lake,[7] published by Boa Editions, Ltd. The book was prefaced with an introduction by the accomplished poet, John Logan.[8] Subsequently, Gioseffi edited On Prejudice; A Global Perspective (Anchor/Doubleday: NY, 1993) [9] a book of world literature that was widely used in various universities as a multicultural text for tolerance teaching. It was awarded a Plougshares Peace Foundation grant as was Women on War. Both compendiums were presented at The United Nations On Prejudice; A Global Perspective, [10] was translated into Japanese and published in Tokyo where it was also used in colleges and universities to teach tolerance against all forms of xenophobia and mono-culturalism.

Gioseffi has published four more collections of poetry, two novels, and a volume of short fiction. [11] Blood Autumn: Autunno di sangue, [12] a bilingual edition of new and selected poems, translated into Italian by five Italian poets and professors of Italian Language and Literature: Elisa Biagini, Luigi Bonaffini, Ned Condini, Luigi Fontanella, and Irene Marchegiani by VIA Folios/ Bordighera Press [www.bordigherapress.org/] of The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of The City University of New York.[13]. She was a featured speaker at The First International Women's Book Fair in Barceloma, and at book fairs in Miami, Madrid, Venice, London, and New York City. She served as a poet/consultant to the Poets-in-Public Service program, sponsored by The New York State Council for the Arts, fulfilling residences in Public Schools, Prisons, Senior Centers and Colleges from 1972 to 1986, for which she received a Partner in Education Award from The Board of Education of the City of New York. Before retiring from teaching in 1962, she taught at Brooklyn College, Pace University, New York University’s Publishing Institute, and The Manhattan's College of Visual Arts, and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from The Association of Italian American Educators, 2003 [14].

Early years: biographical details

Daniela Gioseffi was born in 1941 in Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of a Greek-Albanian Italian immigrant father, Daniel Donato Gioseffi, one of the first Italian immigrants to win a Phi Beta Kappa in the United States from the alpha chapter of Union College in Schenectady. Her mother was a war orphan of Polish and Russian Jewish descent who worked as a seamstress and dress designer. Because of her mother's orphan status, and her father's large Italian family, Gioseffi grew up with a strong imprint of Italian American culture. [15] She grew up in Newark and attended Avon Avenue Public School, later moving to Little Falls, New Jersey, where she attended Passaic Valley High School and served as valedictorian of her graduating class of 1959. She was a member of the Honor Society, served on the twirling or drum majorette squad, and as a president of The Girls’ Athletic Association. Active in the drama club as a leading actress in several school plays, she co-edited the school newspaper writing several editorials of sociopolitical community concern. Next, she attended Montclair University to graduate near the top of her class and to be active in college theatre productions, holding leading roles and majoring in English Literature and Speech and Theatre, and was graduated in 1963. While at Montclair University, she began publishing poetry in the campus literary magazine. She won a scholarship to study World Drama at the well known Speech and Theatre Department of The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at CUA, Washington, D.C., with such luminaries as Philip Bosco and the Academy Award winning actress, Susan Sarandon, as classmates. During the next several years she published in various literary magazines, placing poems in such venues as The Paris Review, The Nation, Poetry East, Chelsea Literary Review, Choice – throughout the late 1960s and 70s. Her first novel with Doubleday, Dell, and New English Library, a feminist comedy titled The Great American Belly Dance was optioned for a screen play by Warner Bros. That first novel won her favorable reviews, most notably from Pulitzer and National Book Award Winning author, Larry McMurtry in The Washington Post. The book also earned her a tour of the United States and England, 1977–1979, during which Gioseffi was interviewed by various hosts of NPR and BBC radio and television both in the USA and Europe. She traveled widely in the US and Europe presenting a multimedia piece, The Birth Dance: A Celebration of Women and the Earth in Poetry, Music and Dance, for the New Feminist Talent Agency through the 1970s and 80's. [16]

After publishing Eggs in the Lake her first collection of poems, 1979, [17], she traveled the US giving readings and presentations of her work on numerous campuses. Gioseffi has lived the rest of her writing life in Brooklyn Heights New York City, where she created the First Brooklyn Bridge Poetry Walk [18] – now produced by Poets House every year as a spring fund raiser [19]. Since 1979, Gioseffi has been a member of Poets House, The Poetry Society of America, The Academy of American Poets, PEN American Center, and The National Book Critics Circle, as well as The Freedom from Religion Foundation. Among the notable poets who have written favorably of Gioseffi’s work and writings are Galway Kinnell, Robert Bly, D. Nurkse, Bob Holman, Milton Kessler, Philip Appleman, and Grace Paley.

Published & produced works

  • Care of the Body, and The Sea Hag in the Cave of Sleep, 1971, The Cubiculo Theatre, sponsored by The New York State Council for the Arts, Creative Artists Public Service Program, New York City.
  • The Sea Hag in the Cave of Sleep, a dramatic monologue for three voices, and Violence and Violins, 1972, Theatre at St. Clements, New York City, sponsored by The Creative Writers Public Service Program, of the New York State Council for the Arts.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge Poetry Walk, 1971, sponsored by The Creative Artists Public Service Program, The New York State Council for the Arts,
  • The Great American Belly…, a novel 1977 (Doubleday: NY, New English Library, London.)
  • Eggs in the Lake; Poems, 1977 (Boa Editions; Rochester, NY.) [20]
  • Earth Dancing; Mother Nature’s Oldest Rite, non-fiction treatise 1980 (Stackpole Books, PA.)
  • Women on War: International Writings for the Nuclear Age, 1988 (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster: NY.)
  • Guide to Northwest Jersey Wildlife: Flora and Fauna, 1994,(Skylands Association, NJ.)
  • Word Wounds and Water Flowers; Poems, (Bordighera Press, Purdue University, 1995.) [21]
  • In Bed with the Exotic Enemy: Stories & Novella, 1995 (Avisson Bks., Greensboro: NC.)
  • Going On, Poems, 2000 (Rattapallax Press: New York, NY)
  • Women on War: International Writings from Antiquity to the Present, 2003, Feminist Press, [22] Graduate Center of the City University of New York.)
  • Blood Autumn: Autunno di sangue, New & Selected Poems, 2006 [23] (VIA Folios, Bordighera Press, John D. Calandra Institute, Graduate Center, City University of New York.) [24]
  • Emily Dickinson: Lover of Science and Scientist in Dark Days of the Republic, essay, Chelsea Literary Review, Number 81, New York City.
  • Wild Nights, Wild Nights: The Story of Emily Dickinson's Master Figure: "Neighbor and Friend and Bridegroom," A Biographical Novel (c) 2010, Plain View Press [25]
  • Work in Progress: "Immigrant's Daughter: My Life as an Italian American Woman Writer in New York City, memoir 1967–2011.

References and sources

  1. ^ The American Book Awards: Recipients

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