Celebrating the Literary Legacy of Joseph Tusiani

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In Memoriam: Poet and Lehman Professor Emeritus Joseph Tusiani

Leonard Lief Library at Lehman College recently acquired the works of internationally acclaimed poet, translator, scholar, and Lehman professor emeritus Joseph Tusiani (1924-2020), which is now available to the public for study and research. In tandem with the launch of the collection, the library is also featuring an exhibit about the poet's life and work. Tusiani retired from Lehman College in 1983.  

The special collection is accessible through a dedicated website.

“The careful curation of Joseph Tusiani’s life’s work marks a significant milestone in preserving his literary legacy,” said Kenneth Schlesinger, associate dean and chief librarian. “This archival collection enhances our library’s resources, enabling students to broaden their perspective and enrich their understanding and appreciation of literature, language, and culture.” 

The archive preserves Tusiani’s most notable works, ranging from those he authored himself to translations, poems, essays, and more across five languages. Enhancing the collection is a series of video interviews that provide an opportunity to hear Tusiani reflect on his life, family, and writing. These intimate conversations offer insight into the poet’s mind and the creative process that helped shape his work.

Working under direction of Special Collections Librarian Janet Butler Munch, the collection was curated by Lehman alumna Marguerite Zappa, who assisted Tusiani over many years in preserving his legacy. 

“A literary masterpiece, the Professor Joseph Tusiani Collection is vast in scope, rich and brilliant in content. Through his poetry, translations, essays, novels, and other writings, the legacy he leaves to us is testament of his humanity, intellectual rigor, and genius,” said Zappa.

Tusiani was honored with the Distinguished Accomplishment in Literature Award at the Lehman College Foundation’s 2015 Awards Dinner, and named New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus the following year. Watch a video profile of him here.

2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Tusiani’s birth. Known as the “Poet of Two Lands,” his contributions to literature are recognized worldwide and have inspired generations of poets. In March, his hometown of San Marco in Italy’s Apulia region dedicated a bench featuring a life-sized bronze sculpture of him.

To learn more and access the special collection, visit the website or consult the finding aid directly.