Contributors of Issue 12: “Who more than Joyce to appreciate the way the music of words matters at least as much as their meaning?’

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.


Read about other contributors by going to The Journal or clicking on the Contributors tab below.