It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of poet Gil Fagiani.
As one of the VMF’s founders, Fagiani was a prime mover for the group, a presenter, a moderator of events and the man who wrote “Litany for San Vito.” The poem was read at each and every VMF event, oft-time in English, Spanish and Italian, by numerous interpreters.
Fagiani was a model for the late-career artist. His work was enjoying consistent publication by a variety of literary houses.
By 2014 the New York Times was ready to profile his life and work.
Fagiani’s book, Stone Walls was published by Bordighera Press in 2014. In that work, Gil administered a dose of Americana with a twist. His 1950s childhood is recalled with the treats and temptations of post-war prosperity and adolescence rendered in high relief. Beneath the bucolic surface of suburban Connecticut the seeds of a rebellion that will explode a decade later are germinating. The poems are filled with the restlessness of the first generation born after the bomb and portray the initial, impulsive steps toward revolutionary sentiments.
In 2015, Guernica Press published Logos, an in-depth, insider’s look at the harrowing world of drug addiction and rehabilitation. In the pipeline is his latest, Missing Madonnas, which will ensure that the poet speaks even though he has departed.
Fagiani also authored the poetic volumes, Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007), Chianti in Connecticut (Bordighera Press, 2010), Serfs of Psychiatry,(Finishing Line Press, 2012), and “Grandpa’s Wine” (Poets Wear Prada, 2009).
“Marcantoniana” covered Gil’s A Blanquito en El Barrio (Rain Mountain Press, 2009), a lyric appreciation of East Harlem, five years ago. Here is that report, now, too soon, rendered a remembrance.
Gil was rolling along, writing away, traveling in Europe with his wife, Queens poet laureate and La Voce di New York contributor Maria Lisella, when he was stricken with an awful illness, against which he parried valiantly for a few months, before succumbing: a word we loathe to apply where this fighting, radical spirit is concerned.
He will rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, just “a few steps away” from Vito Marcantonio and Fiorello La Guardia. According to Maria, that was a dream of the poet’s.
Gil Fagiani was soft-spoken, yet outspoken, low-key, yet industrious, and kind in the extreme.
He did not just write the books. He stood on multiple stages and told his stories to audiences of flesh-and-bone people. Here is a recording of Gil reading from “Blanquito” back in May of 2015 at the Cornelia Street Cafe. It is how we prefer to remember him.
A wake will be held April 15 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Quinn’s Funeral Home, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City, 11106. (718) 721-9200.
The funeral will be held April 16, 11 a.m. at Historic Woodlawn Cemetery, 4199 Webster Ave. and 233 St., Bronx, N.Y. 10470 (718) 920-0500.