Lehman Today Online Magazine Lehman Today Spring 2016 - Page 12

NY State Poet Emeritus Publishes New Poetry Collection At 92, Joseph Tusiani continues to work wonders. In October 2015, Tusiani, a Professor Emeritus at Lehman College, was honored for his lifetime achievement in the arts at the Lehman College Foundation Awards dinner. Then in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo named him the New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus in honor of his literary corpus as an acclaimed poet, translator, and novelist. Now, in April, Tusiani has published A Clarion Call (Bordighera Press), a collection of sixty-eight poems that he has penned, on a nearly daily basis, since suffering a stroke in February 2014. “To me, it is unquestionably obvious that an educated population is vital to the nation’s economic and civic wellbeing, and thus well worth our collective support and investment of precious resources.” ­– Dr. Ricardo R. Fernández Born in San Marco in Lamis, Italy in 1924, Tusiani earned a doctorate from the University of Naples in 1947, and that year emigrated from Italy to the United States, settling in the Little Italy section of his beloved Bronx. He taught at a number of colleges before landing at Lehman College where he taught Dante and the classics (see p. 24), before retiring in 1983. In the nearly two and a half years since his fateful stroke, Tusiani has written more than 600 poems in four languages: English (the language of his adopted country); Italian (the language of his native country); Latin (the mother tongue of Catholicism and the Romance languages); and Gargano (the dialect of the Apulia region of Italy, where he was born, and his first language). In A Clarion Call, Tusiani writes about the new physical limitations he must grapple with even as he contemplates his own mortality. His new need for a cane is recorded in “Mother’s Day 2014” as he NEW POEMS BY Joseph Tusiani NEW YORK STATE POET LAUREATE EMERITUS BORDIGHERA Bordighera Press VIA Folios 118 BN 978-1-59954-104-4 A Clarion Call A Clarion Call t omnia nota nte creatast. tore sensus efero verba. ax quoque vivo spirans. pibus altus, sistens. ndice lucis oeta? Joseph Tusiani $16.00 ANI received his doces in 1947, the year in urn to his home village The Return,” which res Greenwood Prize. His rnered numerous prizs (1955), Rosa rosarum ina II (1998), Radìcitus established him as the BORDIGHERA PRESS visits his mother’s grave in St. Raymond’s Cemetery, triggering a childhood memory of young doctors suddenly strolling the piazza of his hilltop Italian town with canes “to let all the people know they had achieved well-earned importance in society.” In “The Wounded Swallow,” he recalls another childhood memory when a boy struck a bird with a slingshot: “she was flying low around the church/a different sling has hit and wounded me/His name is Fate, but I’ve forgiven him.” But throughout A Clarion Call, again and again, Tusiani finds solace in both beauty and art, to which he has dedicated his life. In “New York’s Botanical Garden,” a poem he wrote about one of his favorite places in the Bronx: “...No words are needed:/just walk around and let this very place/tell you what’s necessary to replenish/your senses with new life and all your life/ with a transcending sigh of inner peace.” 10 Lehman Today The Making of a President Lehman Today 11