Anthony DiRenzo Interview

Anthony DiRenzo is an Associate Professor in the Writing Department at Ithaca College. Although his specialty is professional and technical writing, he has published a novel, Trinacria, and he has also published a variety of short stories and essays. He’s won both a faculty excellence award and a faculty mentor award.

Anthony DiRenzo
Anthony DiRenzo

In the anthology, he’s published an essay entitled “Autumn in Rome: A Triptych.”

  1. What made you want to publish in the anthology?

A novelist and essayist who teaches a service-learning course on proposal and grant writing, I strongly believe in supporting local publishing and literature. Independent presses such as Cayuga Lake Books play a crucial artistic and political role in our bottom-line society. They challenge the corporate values of mainstream publishing, expose audiences to unique and underrepresented writers, and generate precious social capital.

  1. What made you want to submit this piece in particular?

Many Ithacans have visited and lived in Rome and have felt right at home. That doesn’t surprise me. Like Ithaca, Rome is a city of hills, full of coffee houses, contrarians, and epic congestion. It also has a glorious autumn. A seasonal piece on Rome, therefore, seemed appropriate for this anthology. I suspected that many of my fellow contributors would write about the area’s mythical landscape, so I wanted to provide a mythical cityscape.

  1. You’ve also published a novel, Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily, and are working on a sequel, After the Fair is Over. Is your process for writing fiction different than it is for nonfiction?

Since I almost exclusively write satire, I don’t approach fiction and nonfiction very differently. Both have social aims and cross-pollinate each other. My stories and novels rely on and integrate firsthand and archival research. My journalism and essays employ fictional techniques to communicate facts and connect to readers. My columns for L’Italo Americano, for example, are written from the perspective of one of Rome’s most popular monuments.

  1. Why Italy, of all places? What do you find so interesting about their history and culture?

Although born in the United States, I consider myself an Italian more than an American. My most important formative experiences occurred in Italy. More to the point, I refused to speak English until I was mainstreamed and still have a faint accent. That is why friends call me an Old World man in a New Age town.

  1. When did you start writing? What were your first writings like?

I began writing in elementary school, mostly to mock and protest the stupidity and brutality of my teachers and other authority figures. By the time I was twelve, however, I had been exposed to the classical Roman satirists, Horace, Juvenal, and Martial, as well as the neoclassical writers most influenced by them: Swift, Pope, and Voltaire. These were my earliest and most enduring models.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I sing English and Italian comic opera in regional music companies. This probably explains my work’s Rossinian sarcasm. I treat history and politics as a pathetic opera buffa.

  1. How can readers learn more about you? Do you have any social media accounts?

Readers can learn more about me and read excerpts from work on my faculty website:

They also can email me at direnzo@ithaca.edu or connect to me on Facebook.

Thanks, Antonio!