Joseph Tusiani Named New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus

Prof. Joseph Tusiani accepting his award at the Lehman College Foundation dinner in October 2015.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo named Joseph Tusiani, a Professor Emeritus of Lehman College, the New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus.

Tusiani, who retired from Lehman in 1983, is an acclaimed poet, translator, and novelist. He has published poems, translations, and other writings in four languages: Italian (the language of his homeland); Latin (the language of the Roman Catholic Church in which he was raised); English (the language of his second home, the United States of America); and Gargano (the dialect of the Apulia region of Italy, where he was born, and also his first language). He continues to write a prolific amount of poetry.

Later this year, Bordighera Press will publish, A Clarion Call, culled from the many poems he has written since suffering a stroke in 2014. In October 2015 Tusiani was honored for his lifetime achievement in the arts at the Lehman College Foundation Awards dinner.

Born in San Marco in Lamis (Foggia) in 1924, Tusiani earned a doctorate from the University of Naples in 1947 with a thesis on William Wordsworth. Later that year, he emigrated from Italy to the United States where he began his career as a successful academic.

Tusiani has written numerous collections of poetry. His Latin works include Melos Cordis (1955), Rosa Rosarum (1984), In Exilio Rerum (1985), and In Nobis Caelum (2007); Lo Speco Celeste (1956), Odi Sacre (1957) and Il Ritorno (1992) in Italian; and, Rind and All (1962), The Fifth Season (1964) and Gente Mia and Other Poems (1978) in English.

On the international stage, Tusiani is well known for his translations that include The Complete Poems of Michelangelo (1960), Jerusalem Delivered (1970), The Creation of the World (1982), Morgante (1998) and others. Tusiani has also written a novel, Envoy from Heaven (1965), and authored a three-volume autobiography, La Parola Difficile (1988), La Parola Nuova (1991) and La Parola Antica (1992).

Tusiani began his teaching career at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and later joined Lehman College of the City University of New York.

Tusiani is widely recognized for his Italian, English, Latin and Apulian poetry and has received numerous awards and accolades. In 1954, he was the first American to receive the Greenwood Prize of the Poetry Society of England. In 1986, The American Association of Teachers of Italian nominated him as the first recipient of the AATI Distinguished Service Award. In 2007, he was presented with the Keys to the City of Florence for his contributions to the English-speaking world’s knowledge of Florentine poets from Dante and Boccaccio to Petrarch and Machiavelli.

The Poet Laureate Emeritus is a separate and distinct honor bestowed on Tusiani by New York State in recognition of his achievements in American and Italian literature.