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at the American Italian Roundtable Book Fair
at Fordham University in New York City, December 2003
Italian American Writers | New York | December 2003

Aldo Tambellini was born in Syracuse, New York in 1930 and was taken to Italy at the age of eighteen months where he lived in Lucca (Tuscany), Italy. At the age of ten he was enrolled in the Scuola D’Arte, Augusto Passaglia and studied there until he was sixteen. His neighborhood was bombed during World War II (21 of his friends and neighbors died). In 1946, Aldo returned to the United States. For his artistic Aldo Tambellini, 2003talents, he received a full scholarship to study Art at the University of Syracuse where he earned his B.F.A. in Painting in 1954. Subsequently, Aldo was awarded aTeaching Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame studying under World—renowned artist, Ivan Mastrovic graduating with a Master Degree in Sculpture in 1959. Aldo moved to New York City at the end of 1959. He was the founder of the artistic group called "Group Center", an active counter-culture movement organizing group exhibitions, anti-Vietnam demonstrations, multi-media events and collaborative performances. While interacting with other artists, Aldo continued to exhibit as a painter and a sculptor. He founded the Gate Theatre the only daily public theatre showing avant-garde independent filmmakers in New York City. He, also, co-founded with Otto Piene the Black Gate, a second theatre, which held live multi-media performances and installations. In the late ’60s he was a pioneer of the movement of alternative video (non-broadcast TV). Aldo won the International Grand Prix, Oberhausen Film Festival, 1969 for his "Black TV" now in a collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where he held a One-Man Film Show. Recognition for his avant-garde work led Aldo to be in the First Video as Art Form Exhibition at Brandeis University Museum, Massachusetts and the First Video Art Gallery Show at Howard Wise Gallery, New York City. With Otto Piene, Aldo Tambellini created the first ever National Television Broadcast by Artists in 1968 in Cologne, Germany and participated in the First Broadcast by Video Artists on WBGH, Boston. For his media work, he was awarded several grants from the New York State Council of the Arts. From 1976-84, Aldo was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, he worked with Arts, Media and Communication conducting Aldo and Gioseffi, 2003courses, workshops and participated in events in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. He organized a group called "Communicationsphere". His Media and Communication work was exhibited at the Bienale ‘83, Sao Paolo, Brazil and at the Sogetzu, Japan. Since 1984, his artistic activities have concentrated on writing and performing poetry in many venues in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1998 he founded and hosted a venue "The People’s Poetry" in Cambridge, MA. His poetry deals with the effect of technology on our lives, the issues of poverty, the alienation of humans in our society, the destructive aspect of war, and the neglect of the poor and the elderly. His vision has been described as "dark". Using a style that is sometimes tough, humorous, sarcastic, tragic and metaphorical most of his themes are contemporary and brutally raw. In contrast, Aldo is gentle and sensitive in his poems dedicated to children. He has performed his poetry with music; video projection; participated in many radio shows and countless poetry venues. Aldo was first published in the Syracuse University Literary Journal in 1952. Subsequently, he has been published in several journals and publications including "Center Poems", CAVS, MIT, "Black Rose Magazine", Boston, "Spare Change Newspaper", "Ibbetson Street Press", in the most recent book City of Poets, 18 Boston Voices , and in the Spring Issue 2002 of "Voices of Italian Americana" (VIA). These photos were taken by Anna Salamone(C) 2003, including, one with Daniela Gioseffi at the American Italian Roundtable Book Fair at Fordham University in New York City, December 2003.

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Bookcover: Aldo, collected Poems, 1946-2003

October 16, 1990 from "brainscan '90"

at the age of 12
1 used to go to the country
set up an easel
a board with watercolor paper
then paint a tree by the river
now the river is poisoned with chemicals
the tree destroyed
behind cement walls
large glass panels
in the now landscape
thousands upon thousands sit in front of IBMs & Macs
on the walls calendars & framed pictures with waterfalls
wooded virginal forests & perhaps a tree by the river

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September 12, 1990 from "brainscan 1990

against the wall
the oleander fragrance
the cow manure with pungent smell
the sun baking the earth
I felt the signs painted on the wall
the names layered upon paint the last scratches of
someone's last hour a mark that says
this is the moment there is nothing else
behind the wall a scream of agony
a life passes
new manure for the ground
poppies grow
in the distant fields
oxen carrying wheat to the mill
the wooden wheel turning
in the water the stones grinding seeds
into coarse flour the rhythm continuing
the hunter shoots at the sky killing a bird in flight
that just happened
to pass in that direction

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November 20, 1990 from "brainscan '90"

the computers are constantly active
words scroll on
distant telegraffiti from unknown sources
time after time after time
stillness hangs on a taut wire
held in suspension between two poles
a child sits on the broken sidewalk
on the edge of a city dump
the shadows elongating becoming mountains
surrounding her frail body

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August 18, 1990 from "brainscan '90"

they leave traces
from a process
they leave bones
ground in fine dust
they give a way to see
the droppings of a donkey
they look inside craters
interrupted by
the take-off of
a missile
leave polaroids
accumulating with time
pick up refuse
with a question
their neurons
flip TV
on & off
xerox machines

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July 31, 1997 from "City of Poets"

keep poetry out of politics they say
(meaning no political poetry)
there is a universe in printed words

inside encyclopedias & dictionaries
not to mention academic libraries
& all the personal introspective Freudian poems
I say: & so much love to fill a mighty nation with hate

admire the illusory passing movement
see free enticing sensuous seductive forms in motion
taking ordinary space into a new dimension
reserved for mighty powerful
rulers guarded by law enforcement agents

look you cannot touch a space
named liberty surnamed freedom — it's that simple

dreaming of a pomegranate breast
each seed a nipple nourishing a world
full of rain forests with herbs - fruits - roots & seeds
sprouting from a fertile vagina
to begin a generation anew
communicating through the insects' antennas
that no one should auction human lives

the TV screen has huge smiling teeth
chewing - grinding - swallowing
the mouth of an angel with draconian wings
sucking desires from the jugular vein
a virgin apparition that says:
buy that special seat in heaven
now before the sale is over

one day I'll write that poem
about fantasy island
where they all live harmoniously forever e
ven a man & a woman together
sucking an erotic placebo with their tongues
releasing a slow sustained orgasm
through multicolored painted toenails

a day when touching gold
will spread gangrene in the body
shrinking the heart to a lead penny
& the brain crumbled in worthless dollar bills

yesterday july 30'97 astronomers discovered
the most distant galaxy estimated 13 billion light years away
the hubble telescope searching intergalactic space
could not find blood st.

why so much sarcasm says the merchant
I'll sell you an infinity car on a downpayment
with a free tank of gas & a life insurance
deal so you can take a ride to Saturn
& if god forbid something would happen
the policy will cover the burial
take a ride toward a positive direction

your poems (if you can call them so)
have bullets filled with rat poison
shooting at a hippopotamus walking on stilts
they miss the optimistic American outlook on life
that's when I spotted an unnoticeable caterpillar
voraciously devouring a leaf
then a million made the forest naked

turned the radio on & it said:
"it's easier to kill a worker than a rabbit in the backyard"
then switched to a station
with the weather report on mars & venus
"keep poetry out of politics" I said
"it's not a lucrative business not even a profession
what is there to compete I do not know"
then I turned on TV for inspiration

suddenly it came to mind lines
written years past: "death would be too alive
but they are dying a continuous death
as if life & death never came
as if they had the formula for dying"

busy street full of people
wondering what was that lost poem all about

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Letter to Daniela Gioseffi | Re. Her Editorial About "The Sopranos" | 12/22/2002

Dear Daniela,
First let me state that through the internet, I have become aware of some of your poetry which I consider to be among the best in the US or anywhere and for that I wanted to express my highest admiration. Your very intelligent, scholarly and gutsy protest letter against the Sopranos moved me very deeply, emotionally and personally for I fought that very defamation perpetuated by the media in NYC in the 60’s (The Village Voice, New York Times and etc.)

I’ve been an artist all my life, born in the USA taken to Lucca, Italy at the age of 18 months. There I grew up during Mussolini and the later German Nazi and Fascist tyranny. The bitter taste of oppression is still in my mouth. America has its own brand of oppression, racism and white ethnic prejudice. One of its specific form is to use the Italian-American as a scapegoat for the evil done by the establishment. More insidious and deceitful often camouflaged under so-called entertainment or freedom of the press. You are addressing a very powerful and complex issue when you say, "The reason that our community doesn’t win the fight against defamation is that not enough of our writers and citizens have joined in unity with our organizations against stereotype." (and I would add creative artists of all kinds and those artistic and economic achievers who still maintain the acceptable subservient attitude towards what they believe to be a "Superior White American Group" not realizing that every group in the US was originally immigrant except the Native Americans which were mostly genocide.) Italian-Americans, with the exception of a small minority, are still misfortunately intimidated and conditioned by the Media to accept a cultural second class position. As I am writing to you from Italy where I have been for the past three months, I have discussed this problem numerous times from the North of Italy in Trentino to Sicily where the infamous MAFIA history was born. The Italians in Italy seem to be aware of this negative image that Italian-Americans have in the US. Sicily, which I am visiting for the first time, is an incredibly beautiful land with strong people with so many ancient cultures whose rich history is never discussed in America by the defamatory US Media which chooses to concentrate on the convenient MAFIA image.

I never experienced such an outrage in a condensed form as I did in your editorial. Is it because men are more inhibited and self conscious in expressing outrage than women? (Passion or emotion is considered not an appropriate for Macho America) Is it because America has conditioned the Italian-Americans to fight the foreign enemy in perennial wars rather than the enemy at home? Is it because you with Parenti and others mentioned understand that the "official culture" is falsely created by the Media and only through the understanding of the Media-Machine are we able to expose the hidden mechanism that controls our brain and create stereotypes?

One is not truly "educated" until one comprehends Media and that TV has become the brainwashing Bible of the people. The Italian- Americans need to be educated in this area. One of the many issues in my poetry is to expose the hidden mechanism of Media and its powerful effect on the masses.

This e-mail is meant to express my deep appreciation for your straight outspoken delivery and for what I consider an overdue rage for this complex problem. We Italian-Americans should join together in demonstrating (as the Blacks did in the 60’s) to make it clear to the powerful Media that at this age and time ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. My greatest admiration for your combative spirit and wonderful poetry.


Aldo Tambellini

PS This e-mail written while in Italy is sent to you now (excuse the delay) but the content is still appropriate even though the Soprano actors were not allowed to march.

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