Inspired Writers series with author-illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano at Fairfield University April 2


Fairfield University's Inspired Writers series of University College joins with the Italian Studies Program to co-sponsor the appearance of author-illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano on Thursday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room. Marciano will introduce and discuss his latest book, "Madeline and the Cats of Rome," a work for children inspired by the author's observations of and research about the Roman Cats of Torre Argentina in the Italian capital. Admission is free.

Marciano, a self-taught illustrator, is the grandson of award-winning author-illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans who created the beloved picture-book heroine Madeline. Although Marciano never met his famous grandfather, his work is clearly influenced by him. A Publishers Weekly review of an earlier work remarked that Marciano "draws faces with the evocative simplicity of his grandfather's draftsmanship."

Raised on a horse farm in New Jersey and educated in art history at Columbia University in New York City, Marciano spent the last three years living in Italy, painting and researching for this latest book. He was intrigued with the generations of cats that have famously guarded the Roman ruins for thousands of years and followed an inspiration to explore an adventure with Madeline and the cats of Rome.

In doing so, this author draws inspiration from both grandfathers - his famous maternal grandfather as well as his paternal grandfather, Lorenzo, who was born in Pellaro, a small town south of Reggio di Calabria.

In a New York Times Op-Ed piece in December 2008, Marciano wrote of the "tragic and extraordinary turn" his grandfather's life took when Mount Etna erupted in 1908 destroying "Everything Lorenzo had ever known..."

Director of the Italian Studies Program Dr. Mary Ann Carolan, who is also associate professor of modern languages and literatures, teaches a class on the Italian American Experience and expects that "Marciano's own history as a writer and artist living and working in Rome will resonate with the experience of our Italian language students who strive to learn a foreign language here on campus and abroad at our affiliates in Florence and Siracusa, Italy. We hope that the author's personal story will encourage all students to consider the many possibilities that knowledge of a foreign language and culture offers them."

Marciano continues in his Op-Ed piece, "Grampa, who died in 1990, always said he had been born under a lucky star." The assumption was that his grandfather was of a more stoic generation, which, Marciano discovered was not the case. He notes that a few survivors emerged from the disaster with the knowledge they had "stared apocalypse in the face and found the strength to come through it ... Grampa's lucky star was in fact mine, and my brothers', and all our cousins'."

Admission is free but seating is limited. Please contact Laura Keller at (203) 254-4110 for reservations. For more information visit the website at www.fairfield.edu/arts/qc_forum.html#iwriter.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 17, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 251