Contributors Issue 12

Spring 2017 Issue 12

Theme: Tongue twister

We asked our contributors: What word has your attention these days?


Artists: Monica Dengo, Marina Sgobbi, Massimo Facci, Kit Sutherland, Petra Casotto, Edi Solivo, Caterina Giannotti, Maria Grazia Colonnello, Deanna Favre, Annalisa Fermo, Eleonora Petrolati, Renata Mengucci, Maria Gabriella Pianizzola, Patricia Silva, Paola Zoffoli, Daria Sorrentino, Sara Veneri, Alessandra Barison, Rosolino Ganci, Riccarda Bianco, Petra Markhauser, Anna Claudia Di Berardino, Anna Brunetti, Maria Pia Montagna, and Paolo Valzania.

Guided by calligrapher/artist Monica Dengo, our group of 24 calligraphers becomes part of Writing the Divine Comedy…in the Languages of the World. Launched by the Italian Cultural Institute of Cairo, this international project envisages a graphic and calligraphic transcription of the first 21 lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy into the world’s myriad languages. At work are master calligraphers from many countries, as well as translators of the Divine Comedy and other Dante enthusiasts.

Each book contains three of Dante’s first 21 lines, chosen because they succinctly furnish the general concept of Dante’s work: illumination after a time of confusion. The legible and “illegible” alphabets symbolize the many accents found in spoken Italian—regional accents as well as those of people who come from different cultures and who have made Italy their home. The work consists of 21 books, executed entirely by hand, designed to be hung side by side.

The project is supported by the network of Italian cultural institutes around the world and similar institutes in other nations. The Italian Cultural Institute of Cairo is assembling the graphic and calligraphic works with an aim to exhibit them locally and, subsequently, in interested venues worldwide.

Le Forme degli Accenti

Monica Dengo



Kevin McFadden is the author of Hardscrabble and has recently published an illustrated cycle of poems, City of Dante, with artist Jeff Pike. Winner of the George Garrett Award for poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a New Writers Award from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, his poems appear in journals including American Letters & Commentary, Fence, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. A letterpress printer, he’s currently at work on Speaking in Faces, a collaborative specimen book/artist’s book documenting the largest publicly accessible collection of moveable type in Virginia.



Stephen Morison, Jr believes that the ending never really satisfies, which may be why he’s okay with La La Land. Married to his true love, he has, possibly, the most incredible daughter ever born (?). They have lived in Connecticut, China, Jordan and Italy, which is where Steve is writing this. He is enthralled by the mystery of what happens next.

Stephen Morison

This week, his favorite word is moiety, but he has a longer relationship with susurrus and, no doubt, he will soon return to her.

Jeff Shapiro, a New England native and author of Renato’s Luck, has made the countryside near Siena his home for more than two decades now along with his wife, Italian singer Valeria Indice. He writes, sings, teaches and, on rare occasions, indulges in ludic bits of word-riffing like the one offered in this issue.

The word that’s kept me dreaming lately is illumined, especially as James Joyce used it in his story “Two Gallants”: The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging unceasing murmur. I’m in awe of Joyce’s choice of illumined over the more common illuminated—the plosive t of which would have blown apart the soft mumbling mood of the neighboring syllables. Who more than Joyce to appreciate the way the music of words matters at least as much as their meaning?


Shelley Martin, Canadian born, grew up in South Florida. She currently attends New York University and is attempting to learn Italian during her junior year in Florence. She enjoys art, film, bad television, and reading.

Ampersand Interview with Poet Kevin McFadden

Welcome to another interview in the Ampersand series: interviews with writers from all over the world who have a connection to Tuscany.

This time we caught up with poet Kevin McFadden, winner of the 2009 George Garret Prize for poetry, who is always in search of a contemplative day, ‘the elusive luxury between a pair of tooth brushings.’

Poet Kevin McFadden

If you’d like to read previous issues, please go to the Ampersand page.

Winter 2016 Issue 11

The theme for our Winter issue is Has the Befana ever left charcoal in your stocking?, which is explored through an excerpt from a novel in progress, short prose and photography, like this image of Calton Hill, by Bob Blesse.

Winter 2016 – Issue 11

If you would like to read previous issues, please check out The Journal page.

Contributors Issue 11

Winter 2016 Issue 11

Theme: Has the Befana ever left charcoal in your stocking?

To our contributors: Tell The Sigh Press if you’ve been naughty or nice this year.


Bob Blesse was director of the Black Rock Press at the University of Nevada, Reno, for thirty-three years. He taught book art courses, and designed and produced books and broadsides published by the press. He was also head of the library’s rare books and manuscript department for twenty-five years. He has an M.A. degree in English Literature from California State University, Chico and a Masters of Library and Information Science from UCLA. He and his wife have lived in Florence, Italy since 2014.

I am fascinated by the natural beauty of our world and try to show this through my landscape images. I view my photography as artistic creative interpretation, rather than the recreation of static visual elements. I present nature as seen through my eyes, offering my vision as a creative composition, which I hope elicits a positive emotional response from the viewer. I also create monochrome images, which I believe are thought provoking, with positive energy and visual tension.

Naughty or Nice? I’ve never been a big fan of the word “nice,” but I always tried to be pleasant, kind, friendly, and polite with friends and everyone I met this past year. I don’t believe I’ve been particularly “naughty.” Keep a steady keel and avoid naughty, bad behavior is my motto. However, if naughty behavior reflects self-indulgence, then perhaps I’m a rather naughty eater at times. But I do watch what I eat—at least until it’s gone.

[ ]

Gary Rogowski is the nom de plume of the fictional writer, Giga Roodski. Giga, as he is known only in Paris, has taken to haunting the streets near his favorite restaurant, the little known Pizza de Venise on Rue Montreuil to catch a glimpse of the past. It eludes him as he sits in the copious smells from the oven.

Charcoal? I have found in my stocking old orange rinds, scraps of newspaper clippings, a small plastic rhinoceros, and a password to a forgotten door. No, no charcoal. The dust of years has settled in there comfortably but no charcoal. I must have been nice or forgetful.


Paula McGrath lives in Dublin. Her first novel, Generation, was published in 2015. Her second, A History of Running Away, is forthcoming in 2017. She has a background in English Literature and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Limerick. In another life she was a yoga teacher.

Paula McGrath

My husband says nice, which is nice. Feedback from my kids was more mixed, however, but when I reminded them that I’m in charge of their Santa lists, they revised upwards.


JJ PIglet & John Gerard Sapodilla: This year I haven’t had any time for burlesque and one of the heels on my shoe is loose. I can’t possibly walk in it, let alone tango or climb steps. If I tried to put washing outside it would blow away and end up in the North Sea. Maybe the North is ok for good girls, and I was always brought up to be good. I always wanted to sunbathe on the bridge of a yacht, so long as it isn’t too hot. (I have freckles and burn too quickly, besides I don’t like caviar.) I am always good. I know you are always naughty, John Gerard. That is quite a good combination. The Yin and Yan of the Florence writing club.

Enter Befana and her Agent BX.

“So, Agent  BX, what about J G Sapodilla? has he been good or naughty during the year?”

“Ma’am, people are complicated.”

Ampersand Interview with author Paula McGrath

Author Paula McGrath

Welcome to another interview in the Ampersand series: interviews with writers from all over the world who have a connection to Tuscany.

This time we caught up with Irish author Paula McGrath, who was recently in Florence as ‘Writer in Residence’ for Florence Writers. She talks about tree-houses, creativity and her search for interconnectedness.

Author Paula McGrath

If you would like to read previous interviews in the series, please check out the Ampersand page.

Autumn 2016 Issue 10

Cooler mornings, shorter days and the smell of firewood in the air: is this writing weather we see coming? Don’t get us wrong, beach weather is great, but we find that with the arrival of cold weather, cups of tea and rain tapping against the window, stories emerge that have hidden in the shadows all summer long.

The theme for this issue is ‘When what you fall back on doesn’t work anymore’, which is explored through short prose, poetry and drawings by Francesco Duffy-Boscagli.

Autumn 2016 – Issue 10

Contributors Issue 10

Theme: When what you fall back on doesn’t work anymore.

To our contributors: Tell The Sigh Press what habit you would like to give up, and what new skill would go in its place.



Francesco Duffy-Boscagli hails from the seaside town of Santa Barbara, California. What he enjoys most in life: laughter, incredibly fine tip pens, and the quiet relief found in the rare moments in which there is nothing to do. With his pens he creates daily drawings that he shares with the world.

It is leniency with myself that is my worst habit. I always allow myself more time than allotted, it is not something I can fall back on. Ever. And you’d think this would be easily learned and then fixed. It is not. It is something that sticks by you, as if the procrastination itself has begun to procrastinate.


Luke Whitington left Australia (and a career in diplomacy) to learn Italian at the University for Stranieri in Perugia. He spent 19 years living in Italy restoring old ruined buildings, then did the same in Ireland for nine years while launching a multi-media centre (Pleasant Factory) in Dublin in the 90s. His work has appeared in publications in Ireland and Australia such as Post, Five Bells, Quadrant, Overland and Contrappasso, and has been anthologized in Henry Kendall Prize Anthologies, Australian Love Poems 2013, and Canberra Poets Anthology 2015. He participates in public readings of his work, including in Florence, one of the places where he divides his time.

Rather than habits, let things evolve. Habits are for drudgery.

Volodymyr Kuzma is a Ukranian-born violinist who has lived and worked in Florence since 2002. Currently he is a Professor at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole and also gives many concerts in Italy and abroad. His hobbies include composing music and writing, which is usually done during his travels.



It’s a tricky question because in my opinion we all change, adapt and evolve constantly so, week to week, I always try to improve myself, shed some bad habits and learn something new.

Isabella Ronchetti is an artist-writer/misanthrope/sesquipedalianist who intentionally wears mix-matched socks and taught herself to raise one eyebrow. She finds inspiration in dreams, stories, shapes in the cumuli, and peculiar happenings from everyday life. Her award-winning work has appeared in numerous publications such as Diverse Voices Quarterly, Canvas Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, GREYstone, Glass Kite Anthology, Bluefire Journal, The Claremont Review, Celebrating Art, and Poetic Power Anthology.

Isabella Ronchetti

Often when I feel alone, I climb eight flights of stairs to the roof of a parking lot. I watch people walk by, I watch them go through the boring motions of their day, completely unaware of me up there. I realize, from watching these herds of people who are all the same, unquestioning, that I am stagnant and boring like everyone else. I am trying to change little things throughout my day, trying to make my life a little less predictable. I owe this to my throne on the roof and to all the oblivious passers-by who are living their lives without questioning why they do what they do, but once they figure that out it will probably be too late.


Anonymous has had a relationship with Florence since 1992, often enjoying the secret that she is intimate with the place and culture despite her anonymity in the weighty terra cotta city swarming with tourists.

Anonymous would like to stop mixing Italian and French whenever she tries to speak French, a language she once knew well. This unfortunate habit would be replaced with neat language compartments in her brain where the French are having their croque monsieurs and the Italians are gesturing over espresso (as only espresso should be made), and never the two shall meet.

Quotes Podcast with Lee Foust

Lee took part in our Ampersand Interview series and read ‘A Certainy’ for us. You can read it by clicking on the photo below.

A Certainty by Lee Foust – Ampersand Series

To hear other readings, go to Quotes Podcasts.

Ampersand Interview with author and performance artist Lee Foust

Author and Performance Artist Lee Foust

Welcome to the second of our Ampersand series: interviews with writers from all over the world who have a connection to Tuscany.

This time we find out what makes author and performance artist Lee Foust tick as well as hear him read some of his work.

Author & Performance Artist Lee Foust

You can also listen to Lee read ‘A Certainty.’

To read previous issues, please go to the Ampersand.

Summer 2016 Issue 9

A Chiaro della notte by artist Elenca Secci

Here at The Sigh Press are happy to see the longer days and warmer evenings (although there is more rain than we would like!).

The theme for this issue is ‘the heat is on’ which is explored through love, loss, examination of life, the passage of time, and the hidden meaning of words, accompanied by the artwork of Elena Secci.

Summer 2016 – Issue 9

To see all issues, go to The Journal.