About Us

Three Sicilian-American poets formed a kick line outside La Bodega Art Gallery in Brooklyn after viewing an exhibit and on a whim name themselves The Ferlinghetti Girls.

The Ferlinghetti Girls began meeting outdoors on Brooklyn stoops and in public spaces to counter the isolation of COVID and fulfill the vital need for community. They shared their art forms, attracting spontaneous audiences.

The Ferlinghetti Girls’ energy is fueled by their Sicilian cantastoria-mamadraga tradition and diverse team from around the world and across gender, religion, age, and economic lines, representing African-Sicilian, Filipina, Native American, Guatemalan, Queer, Bisexual, Immigrant, single mothers, older adults, learning disabled and neuro-divergent collaborators.

To honor Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s incorporative vision and celebrate his seminal 1955 book: A Coney of the Mind, they debuted a happening that took place on Coney Island Boardwalk during his centennial year, 2019.

Through performance art, The Ferlinghetti Girls invite participation in urban spaces. They ask and document as Ferlinghetti did in his poem, "Dove Sta Amore," where love is in communal and individual lives. By bringing poetry out into the public gaze, their mission is to inspire those who might not seek it on their own.

See The Ferlinghetti Girls in action on their Project Dove Sta Amore page.

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GABRIELLA BELFIGLIO's work has been published in many anthologies and journals including The Paterson Review, The Centrifugal Eye, Folio, Avanti Popolo, Poetic Voices without Borders, The Potomic Review, Lambda Literary Review and The Dream Catcher’s Song. She is the winner of a W.B. Yeats Poetry Award and currently working on a full-length collection of her poetry. She teaches self-defense, conflict resolution, karate, and tai chi to people of all ages throughout the five boroughs. Gabriella helped develop and implement a program designed for queer homeless youth made possible by a Robert Wood Johnson grant, teaching at Ali Forney Center, the Staten Island LGBTQ+ Center, Metropolitan Community Church/Sylvia's Place, among other sites. She was also integral to The Rising Strong Initiative that placed her into New York City public schools to empower underserved middle school girls. She studied gender studies, literature and writing at Antioch College and received her MFA from American University. www.gabriellabelfiglio.info

Writer/Musician PHYLLIS CAPELLO is a NYFA fellow in fiction & a winner of an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Her collection Packs Small Plays Big is from Bordighera Press, 2018. Her poems appear in The Dream Book, From the Margin, The Milk of Almonds, Embroidered Stories, Ping Pong, The Well & Often Press, & The New York Quarterly. In Sicilian/griot tradition, her cantastoria work as a sing/storyteller has taken her from Ireland-to-Istanbul. She has presented at the International Oral History Conference in Rome, Italy. As a NYC writer-in-residence, she’s taught poetry, since 1982, for many populations in inner-city schools. As a musician/clown since 1990, she’s preformed in pediatric hospitals with The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit and currently with Healthy Humor Red Nose Docs at Sloan Kettering, Brookdale, Harlem, and Bronx Care Hospitals.. She works as a teaching artist with Community-Word Project as well as entertains for the Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan Libraries. phylliscapello@gmail.com

PAOLA CORSO is a NYFA fellow in poetry and winner of a Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. Her books, set in her native Pittsburgh where her Italian immigrant family members were steel workers, include Vertical Bridges: Poems and Photographs of City Steps; The Laundress Catches Her Breath, winner of the Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing; Once I Was Told the Air Was Not for Breathing, winner of a Triangle Fire Memorial Association Award, and Catina's Haircut: A Novel in Stories. Corso, whose community service was recognized by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, was a writer-in-residence with the NEA-funded WritersCorps to introduce literary arts in hospitals and community centers and also a cofounder of the National Writers Union New York Local's community writing project in women's shelters. More recently, she co-founded Steppin Stanzas, a grant-awarded poetry and art project celebrating city steps, and is a member of the Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists Collective. She has master's degrees in creative writing and community organizing. www.paolacorso.com

RONNIE MAE PAINTER, a born and bred New Yorker, is a fine art photographer whose portraits are raw, pure expressions capturing moments of compassion and our common humanity. She regards her portraits as calls to action to change the way we are living. Seeing each other is the first step. She believes in the words of Pope Francis that "mercy is the dynamite that blows down the walls." Ronnie, of an African American and Italian American background, is the resident photographer for The Ferlinghetti Girls.

Ronnie Mae Painter

Paola Corso

Gabriella Belfiglio

Phyllis Capello