America’s foremost authority on Sicilian language and culture, Cipolla will present his 2015 book “The Poetry of Giovanni Meli,” celebrating the 200th anniversary of the death of Sicily’s greatest poet. He will speak about Meli’s life and recite his greatest poems in both English and Sicilian.
Dr. Cipolla is Professor Emeritus of Italian at St. John’s University where he taught for 31 years. He held the position of Chairman of the Department for six years.
He taught courses in the language, civilization and literature of Italy, as well as a course on the Art and Skills of Literary Translation. He received his Bachelor of Science from New York University, (1961) a Master of Arts from Hunter College (CUNY) (1969) and a Ph.D. from New York University (1974).
Dr. Cipolla is the Co-Director of La Parola del popolo, the oldest Italian language journal in this country from 1978 to 1984. From 1989 he collaborated as Senior Editor and from 1992 as Deputy Editor and Publisher for Italian Journal, the most important journal of information on Italy published in America. One of his articles, “What Italy Has Given to the World,” first published in Italian Journal and then reprinted as a booklet by Legas, has gone through seven reprints.
Dr. Cipolla’s scholarly activities focus on several fields: he is a translator of Italian/Sicilian poetic and dramatic texts, an editor, and a publisher. He is also involved in the promotion of the language and culture of Sicily. He is the author of “What Makes a Sicilian?” a successful booklet already in its third reprint, and an opera libretto titled “A lupa” in Sicilian.
As editor/publisher, Dr. Cipolla founded three series of books for Legas: “Pueti d’Arba Sicula/Poets of Arba Sicula,” which has already been published in 14 bilingual volumes; “Sicilian Studies,” which has already been published in 27 volumes; and “Italian Poetry in Translation,” which has already been published in 12 volumes.
Dr. Cipolla is considered an authority on Sicilian language and culture. He edited J. Kirk Bonner’s “Introduction to Sicilian Grammar” (2001), which is the first comprehensive grammar book of Sicilian published anywhere, and he authored “The Sounds of Sicilian: a Pronunciation Guide” (2005).
His book “Siciliana: Studies on the Sicilian Ethos” (2006) contains most of his work dealing with Sicilian culture. In 2013, he published “Learn Sicilian/Mparamu lu sicilianu,” a comprehensive, interactive college textbook of Sicilian that comes with a DVD containing all the answers to the exercises as well as the recording of the dialogues and readings. In 2015 he published a major anthology of “The Poetry of Giovanni Meli,” which contains all the works of Sicily’s most celebrated poet.
Dr. Cipolla is President of Arba Sicula, an international organization that promotes the language and culture of Sicily. He is also responsible for producing the eponymous Arba Sicula, a semiannual bilingual journal (Sicilian/English) for which he does all of the translating, and a 20-page semiannual newsletter titled Sicilia Parra. Recently, Dr. Cipolla made all 33 volumes of Arba Sicula available in digital form. The project was completed in 2011 and the CD is now available.
Arba Sicula, which is housed at St. John’s University, holds several programs a year that include recitals of Sicilian poetry, lectures, Sicilian plays, folk dancing, and presentations of books, etc. Membership in Arba Sicula is $35 a year ($30 for seniors), and includes a double volume of Arba Sicula, two issues of Sicilia Parra and whatever supplements are published in the year.
One of the many activities through which Arba Sicula promotes the Sicilian language and culture is the annual tour of Sicily that Dr. Cipolla organizes for the members. The tour is in its 22nd year.
Dr. Cipolla has received numerous awards and recognitions, such as the Telamone Prize in Agrigento and the Trinacria d’Argento in London. He received the prestigious Pigna d’Argento in Palermo and the Siciliani nel Mondo: Ambasciatori di Cultura Prize from the Region of Sicily in 2006, as well as the Proserpina Prize in Caravaggio Italy in 2011.
In December 2006, Dr. Cipolla signed a convention with the President of Sicily to launch Casa Sicilia in New York, a non-profit association to promote the image, the culture and the products of Sicily. Dr. Cipolla is the President of Casa Sicilia.
Since his retirement from teaching, Dr. Cipolla has continued to be very active in the profession, lecturing extensively in America and Italy.