Tag Archives: Delia De Santis

De Santis Co-Edits Seventh Italian Canadian Anthology

“It was my first day of school in Canada and I didn’t understand a word of English. I was feeling lost and lonely. But when Morena spoke to me in Italian, her words were like rays of sunlight illuminating the darkness.” –Delia De Santis*

 Italian Canadian writer Delia De Santis values the immigrant’s voice. Read one of her stories and you’ll hear authentic dialogue: the banter between neighbours, the fragmented sentences of broken English, the chatter of women at a social gathering.  It’s a skill that comes easy to her like cooking and serving Italian frittata for a guest or working behind the scenes at a local Books and Biscotti event.

Delia De Santis co-edited People Places Passages - Longbridge Books 2018 Image 1

Delia De Santis is a Bright’s Grove editor/short fiction writer known nationally for her work with the Association of Italian Canadian Writers.

Her gift for describing the struggles, joys, and cadences of this culturally-rich group is the basil that seasons her storytelling. As she wrote in one of her stories,

“Oh. So now I am not even Italian anymore,” he laughs. “What kind of talk is that? You were friends with my mother…you don’t think she was Italian? Didn’t she speak and cook Italian? Didn’t she do everything Italian? If you ask me, there was no woman around more Italian than my mother…”**

As a co-editor, De Santis also encourages other Italian Canadian writers to share their unique voices and ensures them that their written creations will be heard nationally and internationally. Her latest project People, Places, Passages: An Anthology of Canadian Writing represents her seventh anthology. Recently released by Longbridge Books, this book was edited with Giulia De Gasperi, and Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni.

According to its back cover, the anthology features short stories, poems, memoirs, and excerpts of plays and novels in English, French, Italian, and a variety of Italian dialects. Its 98 contributors are established and prize-winning authors as well as emerging writers. The volume is the most comprehensive collection yet of Italian-Canadian writing, and a milestone in the history of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW). The writings in this anthology take readers on a journey through myriad worlds and themes: Canada and Italy, past and present, immigration, language, memory, friendship, love, fear, mystery, tears and laughter – an essential volume for students and scholars of Italian Canadiana.”

People Places Passages published by Longbridge Books 2018

People, Places, Passages (Longbridge 2018) is the seventh anthology focusing on Italian Canadian culture that Delia De Santis has co-edited. Included in the 98 contributors are local writers Joseph A Farina, the late Venera Fazio, and Carmen Laurenza Ziolkowski.

De Santis will soon travel to Manitoba for the 17th Biennial Conference, Roots, Routes and Recognition: Italian Canadians in Literature and the Arts, to be held at the University of Winnipeg, September 27-29, 2018. In addition to reading her short story “Why Is It Dark?,” she will participate in two panels: “Honouring and Remembering Venera Fazio” where she will read an essay about a friend/colleague/co-editor who recently passed away; and “The Making of an Anthology: People, Places, Passages”, a look at this important book created for the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW)’s 30th anniversary.

De Santis was also a panel member at the Montreal’s Blue Metropolis Literary Festival on April 29 and the first edition of Librissimi – Toronto Italian Book Fair at the Columbus Centre in Toronto on May 5. 2018.

Last week, I asked Delia to share her thoughts about her writing and editing process. Below are her responses:

First of all, congratulations Delia, on the recent release of the anthology People, Places, Passages. How does this seventh anthology differ from all the others?

September 27 to 29, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Open to the public. Program guides available from the University of Winnipeg.

Thank you, Debbie. When this anthology finally went to the publisher for its final proofing and printing, after two years of us the co-editors, working on it, it was a great relief. It’s an understatement to say that People, Places, Passages is a big book. It’s 545 pages.

Actually, at one point we were wondering if we should make two books instead of one—the contributions seemed to be an overwhelming amount of writing. But our publisher Domenic Cusmano, of Longbridge Books, Montreal, was able to set it all up beautifully in one book. He did a fantastic job. And we just loved the cover design Corrado Cusmano came up with. It’s eye catching and the title placement perfect. We are proud of the finished product.

Besides featuring Italian Canadian writers, is there a common theme that loosely connects all the seven anthologies together?

I would say “Life.” There are myriad themes in the pages of this anthology. Migration is well noted. Immigration, and the aftermath of it; looking back either in memory or transferring memory. The present, too, humanity in all its aspects, joy, fear, laughter. Revisiting the past, but always with forward movement. The progression of life that takes us to the present.

Could you share a glimpse into your editing process? How does an editor decide what is included or not included in a book?

Deciding whether to accept a piece of writing or not to accept it is the first task you deal with, of course. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s quite difficult. You could be presented with material that is meticulously crafted but ineffective and pieces that are written in a careless manner but interesting and memorable in content. But whatever you decide, you have to keep in mind the reader. Would someone, after reading a story think, “I am glad I read that…” The writing has to move you in some way, especially to reflection.

Delia De Santis reads during a Bluewater Reading Series event in Sarnia - May 9, 2015

Dialogue is the oregano that seasons Delia’s storytelling.

What does a normal editing day look like?

Normally, my editing takes place in the evening. After supper is over and the kitchen is cleaned up, I go to my computer room, close the door, and work away. When I am working on an anthology, I hardly get to watch TV or read a book. Sometimes, when I am pondering on what to say to the author, how to word the suggestions for corrections for example, I will make a printout of the writing, put it on the dinette table and leave it there for me to add quick notes on the margin of the pages while I am cooking or baking, or cleaning. I carry that person’s writing in my mind while I perform tasks that are not cerebral. That actually works quite well for me.

When did you first decide you also wanted to be an editor?  Was there an incident that led you in that direction?

I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I recall Venera Fazio asking me if I would like to work with her on an anthology of writers who were Sicilian North Americans or writers of any other extraction but who wrote about Sicily or its culture. Without even stopping to think it over, I said “Okay.” And then I thought, “What am I doing? I have no editing experience—and I am not even Sicilian!” But I am not someone who gives up easily. So what I didn’t know, I researched and found out—I learned. All my life actually I have learned a lot on my own—figuring it out by myself. In the end, that project was a wonderful experience for me. The book’s title is Sweet Lemons. It had so many great reviews, and it went into second printing. I didn’t feel like an amateur anymore. I had turned professional. And I must also say, I acquired a real love of editing.

Through your editing and volunteer work, you’ve been an advocate for Italian Canadian writers. In fact you’ve been a member and involved with the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW) since it began in 1986. You were also the treasurer off and on for 20 years and were recently elected vice-president. The AICW website lists you as the key contact person for this national non-profit organization of over 100 writers from Canada, the United States, Italy, and other parts of Europe. In April 2016, the AICW presented you and your writing/editing friend the late Venera Fazio with an award for your “extraordinary contributions to the Italian Canadian writing community and to Canadian literature.” See more info here. What motivates you to work so hard for this special group?

Venera Fazio and Delia De Santis were honoured for their contributions to the Italian Canadian community, 2016

Co-editor (the late) Venera Fazio and Delia De Santis were honoured for their extensive contributions to the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW).

The AICW is like family to me. Its members, Italian Canadians and second generation, expats, and educators, not necessarily Italian, who study or teach Italian culture, students of Italian language, most of us, share a common background, or interests. It’s also a reality that at first it was not easy for Italian immigrant writers to get their work published. It was mostly rejected for being too ethnic, and it was difficult to break into the Canadian literary scene.

The Association of Italian Canadian Writers became an instrument for promoting the work of its members and a conduit for publishing opportunities. At first, some writers felt that by belonging to the AICW meant ghettoizing oneself, but that’s an idea that has been pretty well dispelled now that we have mostly become comfortable in our position as writers… and even found that our ethnicity and duality can be advantageous at times.

Personally, I am part of my local community of all people, I don’t keep myself excluded. And I don’t feel excluded. But I actually like being in the skin of someone who understands two cultures. It’s not a takeaway. I find it broadens my outlook on life. And, the AICW still functions for me on an important level—besides that of providing me with volunteering opportunities and beneficial networking—that of being able to acquire vital and lasting friendships in North America and Italy.

Fast Forward and Other Stories by Delia De Santis

Fast Forward and Other Stories (Longbridge Books, 2008) is Delia De Santis’ debut short fiction collection.

Let’s switch the focus to your own writing. You’ve been so busy with editing and yet in 2008, Longbridge published Fast Forward and Other Stories which was your debut collection of short stories. Which of your short stories (either in this collection or in other publications) is your most favourite?  Why does it appeal to you?

The favourite of my short stories is “Faces in the Windows.” It was written in the magic realism style. It’s about people in a nursing home, drawn to their windows to watch an old man sitting in his backyard, playing the accordion in the middle of the night. It’s a story that if I were a reader reading it the first time, I would never forget it. I’ve read many stories that I have never forgotten. Even if I don’t remember the whole storyline, I remember the feeling they gave me. Stories of lasting quality.

You have a sharp ear for dialogue. What advice would you give to another writer who yearns to improve his/her dialogue? What is your secret?

Dialogue comes easy to me. If anything has helped me, is that I used to read a lot of plays. So perhaps immersing yourself in reading plays would be good. And of course, it helps to be a good listener. Dialogue doesn’t have to be perfect construction of sentences. It has to capture the character of the speaker and be in the context of the situation at the moment. If your character is a doctor for example, how does he speak when conversing to other doctors, to the staff at the hospital, how does he talk to his family, to his patients? The dialogue has to reflect the mood, the feelings, of the person who is doing the speaking. It has to sound natural, just as in real life.

What are you currently working on?

I am more than half way editing another anthology with Giulia De Gasperi, who is an excellent editor and translator, and I am also doing some of my own writing.

Short stories by Delia De Santis appear in both of thse anthologies

Delia’s work has also appeared in several prestigious Italian Canadian themed anthologies.

Wow, you sound busy. Do you have any other plans for the future?

Yes, I would like to put together another collection of my own short stories. I have some that were not included in Fast Forward and Other Stories, but I need to write a few more.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

For writers: don’t give up writing. Writers make a difference in the world, especially since freedom of speech is not allowed everywhere in the world. Our voice must be valued in our country, but also be made to reach those countries where writers are being silenced and imprisoned.

For readers: please support writers from all over, but also give support and encouragement to our local authors. There is a wealth of talent right here in our town, which continues to enrich our minds… and our community, every day.

Delia, thank you for welcoming me into your home and sharing your thoughts with me. Have a wonderful trip to Manitoba and I look forward to hearing future updates on your writing and editing projects.


Delia De Santis is the author of the collection Fast Forward and Other Stories and her short stories have been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. Some of her work has been translated into Italian. She is the co-editor of seven anthologies: Sweet Lemons: Writings With a Sicilian Accent (2004); Writing Beyond History: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry (2006); Strange Peregrinations: Italian Canadian Literary Landscapes (2007); Sweet Lemon 2: International Writings with a Sicilian Accent (2010); Italian Canadians At Table: A Narrative Feast in Five Courses (2013); Exploring Voice: Italian Canadian Female Writers (2016); and People, Places, Passages (2018).

Delia De Santis has co-edited 7 anthologies featuring the work of Italian writers

Since 2004, Delia De Santis has co-edited seven Italian Canadian themed anthologies. Two are missing from this photo.

For several years, Delia has been on the executive of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers, presently as vice president; and belongs to the Writers Union of Canada. She lives in Bright’s Grove, Ontario with her husband. They have two grown sons of whom they are very proud.

Another profile interview with Delia De Santis appears on the Gloria Pearson-Vasey website.

*from the article “Coming of Age” by Delia De Santis published in the book People, Places, Passages: An Anthology of Canadian Writing (Longbridge Books, 2018), edited by Giulia De Gasperie, Delia De Santis, and Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni, page 111. Reprinted with the author’s presmission. Copyright © 2018 the Authors, Editors, Translators, Association of Italian Canadian Writers.
**from the story “The Last Frozen Dinner” published in the book Fast Forward and Other Stories (Longbridge Books, 2008) by Delia De Santis page 41. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright © 2008 Delia De Santis.

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.


In Sarnia – Next Bluewater Reading Series Event – May 9, 2015

Save the date….Bluewater Reading Series  May 9, 2015 event poster JPG FINAL VERSION for distribution.

Sarnia’s “Books and Biscotti” Celebrates Italian Heritage with New Anthologies – June 22, 2014

Below is information released today by the Dante Club Sarnia:

Three new books will be officially launched in Sarnia on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club in Sarnia.

Three new books will be officially launched in Sarnia on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club in Sarnia.

Two new Italian-themed anthologies featuring the work of established and emerging Italian Canadian writers and a sports-themed poetry collection will be locally launched and showcased as part of this year’s “Books and Biscotti” event, Sunday, June 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club, 1330 London Road (side entrance hall) in Sarnia.

All three books (Italian Canadians at Table (Guernica Editions) co-edited by Bright’s Grove’s Delia De Santis and Toronto’s Loretta Gatto-White, Conspicuous Accents (Longbridge) edited by Montrealer Licia Canton, and Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press) by Lambton County poet Debbie Okun Hill) were published by prominent traditional publishers and include the work of local writers.

Hosted by the Dante Club in conjunction with the Italo-Canadian Cultural Club/Laziali di Sarnia and the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW), this free community presentation will also pay tribute to Italian Heritage month.

Published by Guernica Editions

Published by Guernica Editions

The first anthology Italian Canadians at Table: A Narrative Feast in Five Courses is a passionate literary feast of poetry and prose exploring Italian Canadians’ food culture. The 268-page trade book was co-edited by De Santis, a well-known editor and short story writer, and Gatto-White, an educator turned food writer, blogger, photographer and freelance journalist.

The audience will hear work from De Santis as well as Bolton writer Glenn Carley, Venera Fazio (the prominent Bright’s Grove co-editor of the Sweet Lemons book series) and Joseph Farina, (a Sarnia lawyer and author of two poetry books: The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street).

Published by Londbridge

Published by Longbridge

The second anthology Conspicuous Accents: Accenti Magazine’s Finest Stories of the First Ten Years is a compilation of the best stories published in Accenti since the launch of the magazine in 2003. According to Canton, “there are 42 stories in the book. Most of them are winners or finalists in the annual Accenti writing contest.”

The book was recently launched in Montreal during the 16th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival and at Toronto’s Columbus Centre. It was also showcased in Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and on June 22 will be presented in Edmonton and Sarnia. Canton/De Santis will share one of her stories from this collection.

“Although our main goal is to celebrate Italian Canadian writing and to introduce new books to our local community,” said De Santis, one of the co-organizers for the annual event, “we often balance the afternoon with other local emerging talent.”

Published by Black Moss Press

Published by Black Moss Press

The Sunday event will also include the Sarnia launch of Tarnished Trophies, a collection of 50 sports-themed poetry by award-winning Lambton County writer and former Spoken Word co-host Debbie Okun Hill. All guest authors and editors will be available for book signing. Entertainment will be provided by local musician Christopher Molyneaux. Phyllis Humby, local columnist and award-winning crime writer, will MC.

The Dante Italo Canadian Club was formed by a group of new Italian immigrants on  April 10, 1958, in the City of Sarnia. AICW is a national organization that brings together a community of writers, critics, academics, and other artists who promote Italian-Canadian literature and culture.


Editor Licia Canton

Editor Licia Canton

Montrealer Licia Canton is the author of Almond Wine and Fertility (2008), short stories for women and their men. She is also a literary translator and critic, and founding editor-in-chief of Accenti Magazine. She is (co)editor of eight anthologies of creative and critical writing, including two (2012) volumes on the internment of Italian Canadians. Her most recent publication is Conspicuous Accents (Longbridge 2014): 42 stories by 35 authors. A member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, she has served on the board of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. She is president of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (2010-14). She holds a Ph.D. from Université de Montréal. www.accenti.ca

Co-Editor Delia De Santis

Co-Editor Delia De Santis

Delia De Santis’ short stories have appeared in literary magazines in Canada, United States, England, and Italy, and in several anthologies. She is co-editor of the anthologies Sweet Lemons (Legas, 2004), Writing Beyond History (Cusmano, 2006), Strange Peregrinations (The Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Canadian Studies, 2007) and Sweet Lemons 2 (Legas, 2010). She is the author of the collection Fast Forward and Other Stories and co-editor of the latest anthology, Italian Canadians At Table.

Co-editor Loretta Gatto-White

Co-editor Loretta Gatto-White

Loretta Gatto-White holds an Honours B.A. in Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Education. She writes food columns, freelance feature magazine articles on food and travel as well as profiles. In 2010, her column, Food for Thought won second place for Best Specialty Column in the Atlantic Community Newspaper Awards. Her essays and poems have appeared in the anthologies, Sweet Lemons 2; international writings with a Sicilian accent (Legas Press, New York, 2010) , Christmas Chaos ( Prairie Dog Publishing, Edmonton 2010), Behind Barbed Wire (Guernica Editions, 2012) and Beer and Butter Tarts: a Canadian Literary Food Journal (Stained Pages Press, 2013).  Her premiere anthology, Italian Canadians at Table, co-edited with Delia De Santis , was released by Guernica Editions, Toronto, in 2013.


Glenn Carley

Glenn Carley

Glenn Carley likes to write sometimes and sometimes he does.  Behold…the innocenti…..behold the disdain….behold the as if…..behold the who cares?   Behold the armour akimbo.  Behold the laughter and behold that sacred things abound, when they can be seen and when they can be gotten to. He resides in Bolton.

Joseph A. Farina

Joseph A. Farina

Joseph A. Farina is a practicing lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario and an award winning poet. He has had two books of poetry:  The Cancer Chronicles and Ghosts of Water Street published by Serengeti Press. His poetry has appeared  in poetry journals and magazines throughout Canada and the USA, notably Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, The Windsor Review, Tower Poetry, Feile-Festa, Mobius, Boxcar Poetry Review, Ascent Aspirations, Arabesque Review, and Philadelphia Poets.

Venera Fazio

Venera Fazio

Venera Fazio is former President of the AICW, who was born in Sicily and now lives in Bright’s Grove, ON. Before dedicating herself to writing and editing, she worked as a social worker (MSW). She has co-edited six anthologies on her culture of origin including the recent Descant issue Sicily: Land of Forgotten Dreams. With Delia De Santis, she is currently working on an anthology highlighting Italian Canadian writers. Her poetry and prose have been published in literary magazines in Canada, the US and Italy.

Debbie Okun Hill

Debbie Okun Hill

Debbie Okun Hill is Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society and for eight years was a co-host of Sarnia’s Spoken Word event. Her poems have been recently published in Descant, Existere, The Literary Review of Canada, Vallum, and The Windsor Review. She has read her work throughout Ontario including the Fringe Stage of the 2011 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) is her first full collection of poems.

Christopher Molyneaux

Christopher Molyneaux

Christopher Molyneaux has loved music from a very young age. He began singing and playing piano by ear after hearing “Free Falling” by Tom Petty on the radio when he was 9 years old. He has since picked up the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, playing for the St Clair Secondary School Senior Band, St Clair Jazz Band and the Lambton County Honours Jazz Band. He is currently studying Jazz Performance at Humber College in Toronto.