Yale Professor Wins Poetry Award in Italy
.– Paolo Valesio, professor of Italian language and literature and chair of the Italian department at Yale, received first prize in a national poetry contest in Italy.
The National Prize for Published and Unpublished Poetry – sponsored by the arts organization DeltaPOesia – was awarded to Valesio for his book of poems, “The Place of Massacred Prayers” (Piazza delle preghiere massacrate), published by Laboratorio Press.
The 2.5 million lire award for Valesio was the highest in the category of published poetry. Three poems from the book, “Dream of Summer” (Suono del Este), “Air Mail” (Posta aerea) and “Martha and Maria,” were read aloud by an actor as part of the award ceremonies, which were held this summer in the town of Rosolina, in the region of Venice.
Using “fragments of dialogue and elements of everyday life,” the poems have “a strong narrative structure,” according to the citation for the award. This narrative form is used to describe “a spiritual journey” in the churches of New York and other cities in the area familiar to the poet, including New Haven.
A native of Bologna, Valesio is the exceptional example of a serious scholar who is also engaged as a creative writer. He is author of many works of prose fiction and poetry as well as books and articles on literary theory and criticism. Frequently called upon as a consultant to publishing houses, he serves on several editorial and advisory boards. He is the general editor of a Yale University Press series, “Italian Literature and Thought,” and co-editor of Yale Italian Poetry, a biannual literary journal. He often contributes prefaces and commentary to new works of poetry.
Valesio’s academic research ranges from the Renaissance to the present, with particular interest in the literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Valesio is also innovative in his approach to language teaching, offering courses in creative writing to students of Italian. He founded the Poetry Club at Yale, which he has directed since 1993. Open to the public, the club offers poets of all backgrounds and poetry lovers the opportunity to exchange work and ideas.