We’d very much like to highlight poet, editor and professor, Antonio Vallone whose work was featured in Indie Blu(e)’s But You Don’t Look Sick anthology last year. Vallone’s work impressed the editors so much we nominated him for a Pushcart. When you read Vallone’s work you’ll see why this wasn’t a hard decision but a natural one.
Maybe his years as an educator, and editor, or perhaps a combination of natural talent and life experience, have lent Vallone’s work a brevity and succinct emotionality that cuts right to the core of subjects. It takes a lot for a poem to grow those kinds of roots but much of Vallone’s work has that gravitas and unflinching insight into the human condition. How perfect for an anthology discussing invisible physical illness? Though we are certain, Vallone can write on any subject with the same intoxication in his approach. It’s no wonder this poet is a beloved academic for so many years as well as founding publisher of MAMMOTH books (created while a student at SUNY Brockport).
Antonio Vallone studied at Monroe Community College (AS), SUNY Brockport (BS and MA) and received his MFA from Indiana University. He also has PhD coursework from Purdue. No wonder then, Vallone has spent many years as a treasured Associate Professor of English at Penn State DuBois.
Vallone is also the poetry editor of Pennsylvania English and the co-founding publisher and editor of The Watershed Journal Literary Group—which provide, for Pennsylvania Wilds-area writers, journal publishing opportunities through The Watershed Journal, a quarterly literary magazine, book publishing opportunities, and runs Watershed Books, a literary arts center and used bookstore. Vallone is a board member of The Watershed Journal and the Pennsylvania College English Association.
Vallone’s Poetry collections include: The Blackbird’s Applause, Grass Saxophones, Golden Carp, and Chinese Bats. Forthcoming: American Zen and Blackberry Alleys: Collected Poems and Prose. In progress: The Death of Nostalgia.
The Education of Frederick Douglass
At twelve, enslaved,
Frederick Douglass read,
he said, to be saved,
and so he didn’t feel
like a slave.
The ancient men whose works he read
wrote he was a living being
who shouldn’t be oppressed.
His mind was liberated then,
free, like his body should be.
When we discussed poetry with Vallone he shared that: “The potential for poetry exists everywhere around us. Since I’ve had a cancerous kidney (and two toes as a bonus) removed and now need dialysis three times a week for four hours a session every week for the rest of my life, I’ve written and published several poems about those experiences. At the same time, I’ve looked out my front and back porches and have seen turkeys and ducks I’ve written and published poems about, as well as a friend’s experience with bringing a hummingbird out of torpor.”
“(it is for these reasons in part) I feel like a hairier version of Snow White, except poems land on my outstretched fingertips instead of birds. I think everyone, if they opened themselves up to poetry, could be the same way. Poetry, after all, can be about everything. It’s in the air around us.”
With such a positive perspective on writing poetry, no wonder Vallone has impacted so many people’s lives despite his own health set-backs. He stands as an inspirational writer for those coming up through the ranks as well as his contemporaries and people who have fought serious illness and still want to retain their creativity. Indie Blu(e) was honored to publish Vallone’s work in our anthology on invisible physical illness. It is one of the best aspects of our job, to meet talent like Antonio Vallone and share his work with others.
A lovely story about Antonio’s name: His given name is Antonio. “When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, I listed my name as Anthony. (My grandfather who lived in the US and my uncle both used Anthony instead of Antonio–since it was more common). And I–a stupid 16-year-old– didn’t want to seem “different.” When I started publishing, I wanted to honor both my grandfathers, so I used Antonio, which was my given name anyway.” This story is a potent reminder of heritage, honoring our ancestors and the power of names.
Antonio also shared: “Near the end of WWII, my father’s father, Antonio Vallone, was mayor of Presenzano, a small town in Italy. As the Nazis were moving through Italy, a squadron came to the town and demanded that he tell the townspeople to turn the town over to them. He refused, so they executed him in the town square. When I was eight, I visited Presenzano. Sitting in the square with my mother one day, townspeople came and gave me coins. When I asked my mother why, she said it was the Feast of Saint Anthony Day, and they were giving me the coins in honor of my grandfather, a local hero, who I was named for.”
“My mother’s father, Antonio Manicone, came to the US alone when he was twelve, riding steerage in a ship that was part of the White Star line, the same line that the Titanic was part of. He worked most of his life in the foundry at Bausch and Lomb, raising four children with my grandmother. Later in life, he developed breathing problems from working without the safety measures that exist today. After his death, an autopsy showed his lungs had turned to be a brittle as glass. So, in different ways, both Antonios were heroes to me.”
Antonio Vallone is Associate Professor of English & English Coordinator & Co-Program Leader, Letters, Arts, and Sciences at Penn State DuBois as well as Publisher, MAMMOTH books, Co-Publisher, Watershed Books, Poetry editor, Pennsylvania English.
You can check out a audio of Vallone reading his poetry HERE HERE. >>>
Concerto in B-Negative
for Jackie, my wife,
and Sean, who also waits
How difficult to be the Salieri
to your beloved’s Mozart
of illness, from the first movement
pacing in the sterile
of hospital halls and rooms, waiting
for them to come out
from behind curtains
drawn by stagehands dressed in white
in this latest surgical
opera they’ve composed,
with no intermission
as they wake from the stupor
of sickness and success, knowing
they will always be the maestro,
composing their next symphony
out of your worry and grief
even before the final movement,
and you’ll always be hovering
unseen in the shadows,
in good health, for now, second best.
Antonio Vallone’s book GOLDEN CARP can be purchased HERE via Amazon and by ordering at your local bookstore.
Antonio Vallone’s book THE BLACKBIRDS APPLAUSE can be purchased HERE via Amazon or by looking in antiquarian and independent chapbook collector sites. We absolutely LOVE the cover of this creation – it reminds us of those classics from the 60’s onward published by the originators of the chapbook poetry world.
His collection GRASS SAXOPHONES can be purchased HERE.
You can read Antonio Vallone’s Pushcart nominated work in Indie Blu(e)’s But You Don’t Look Sick by purchasing a digital or print copy on Amazon HERE or asking your bookseller.
We hope to see a lot more of Antonio Vallone’s work in the coming years and are excited to be a home for poets of his talent and work ethic in our anthologies. Indie Blu(e) Publishing is VERY proud of our authors / poets / artists and contributors to our anthologies. We love highlighting their accomplishments. If YOU are a IB contributor and wish to have a profile here, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) including information we’d like to promote on our website such as: Bio, photo, live readings, links, interesting information and one short excerpt or poem. http://www.indieblu.net HERE.