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Stefanile, Felix, 1920-



  • Existence: April 13, 1920 - January 27, 2009

Biographical Information

Felice (known most of his life as Felix) Stefanile was born on April 13, 1920 in Long Island City, New York. Stefanile was educated in the public schools and at CCNY (College of the City of New York). During his college career, Stefanile was drafted into World War II. He became a translator for the Army, translating Italian into English. After his time in the Army, Stefanile found employment in a series of clerical jobs until 1950, when he began his eleven-year stint in the New York State Department of Labor. There he eventually became a middle functionary in worker's claims and entitlements. He met his future wife, Selma Epstein in 1952 and they were married in 1953. In 1954 he and Selma started the poetry magazine Sparrow, which is now one of the oldest poetry journals in the United States. His essay, "The Imagination of the Amateur," which expresses his ideas on independent literary publishing in American history, was published in 1966. The essay gained him a National Endowment for the Arts Prize in 1967, and has been anthologized. In 1961, Felix Stefanile was invited by Purdue University to serve as Visiting Poet and Lecturer for one year. At the end of his tenure, the university asked him to stay on as a member of the English faculty. He taught freshman composition, survey courses, and a poetry writing class that drew campus-wide attention. In 1969 he was appointed to a full professorship. His poetry awards include the Emily Clark Balch Prize of the Virginia Quarterly Review, 1972. In 1997 he was the first recipient of the recently established John Ciardi Award for life-long achievement in Italian American poetry. Stefanile described his poetry style as metrical, traditional poetry within which autobiographical references are mixed. Some publications by Felix Stefanile include: A Fig tree in America, East river nocturne, Voyages to the inland sea VIII, River full of craft, The Patience that befell, The Dance at St. Gabriel's, The Country of absence, Umberto Saba, thirty-one poems, and The Blue moustache: some futurist poems.


MSO 1, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Oral History Program collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Felix and Selma Stefanile papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 306
Scope and Contents The Felix and Selma Stefanile papers (1920-2009; 26.75 cubic feet) document the personal and professional lives of Felix and Selma Stefanile. The collection includes rough drafts and notes of Felix and Selma's published poems and essays. It also contains personal papers which document both of their lives in New York before they came to live in West Lafayette, Indiana. Many of the photographs are focused on Felix's childhood, early life, middle and later years. The photographs document less of...
Dates: 1920-2009; Majority of material found within 1944-2000; Other: Date acquired: 01/02/2010