Giuseppina Marino Leyland

What an honour to launch this books.

I have organised many events, but Ascolta is close to my heart as a daughter of Italian migrants. All of us have similar experiences, like we are looking in a mirror; a ricochet of our stories, setting momentum of place and space. Our collective experiences a powerful medium of identity and belonging.

On a lighter note Pezzi Pazzi- Crazy Pieces by Giuseppina Marino Leyland is a collection of crazy short stories.

“I write to make sense of it and to tell the stories that I can only tell.”

Giuseppina’s individual voice comes from what she has witnessed, heard, imagined and written down to share with us. We get these stories because they resonate with our own experience of growing up Italian in Australia. They reveal a cycling and recycling of traditions, ideas and ways of being.

I too have been privy to stories and wanted to give voice to them, because my parents did not learn to write, their oral tradition, and lack of education then is our duty and obligation because we had the privilege of education. 

Pezzi Pazzi is “Tales of magic and superstition absurdity and delusion based on complex family relationships.”Giuseppina alludes to the mental stuff we manage in the trauma of migration.

Have we addressed this as the next generation?

Our own stories, lived experiences and more to come will reveal our adaptation.

These stories, impact and define the way in which we see our own lives. Our parent’s history, nostalgic memory of their Italy as it was remains untainted, static and idealised. We experience our heritage in our mind’s eye. Our history is very short in Australia. Some of us have never been to Italy. And those of us who have report an epiphany that makes sense of how we came to be here.

Giuseppina encourages us to enjoy our stories, to take ourselves light-heartedly, have a laugh, seriously see the humour of craziness. Though it may seem broken, imperfect, it is significant because of imperfection. She highlights Leonard Cohen’s quote “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in!”

Pezzi Pazzi themes relate to arranged marriage, superstition, the evil eye, recipes like potions of love, longing and discovery of new places, courage to leave and the pain of settlement realising that Australia is a long way from anywhere. No turning back. The consequence slaps us into the reality of one decision, one choice, one moment in time channels a whole life, that comes to accept: mia colpa, mia colpa, mia grandisima colpa!

The Little Bird, is not dissimilar to Fantasia’s story, of accepting destiny til death releases you from the obligation. In the words of Mariella- “I have crossed the seas, I am in America”, she takes her first step on Australian soil. Questo e il mio destino. This is my destiny”.

Other themes harp on misunderstanding, lack of English language skills, knowing, meaning and understanding. Navigating two cultures and wondering which one is relevant. Broken relationships and the art of dating, one about how to tame a donkey in the mini-novella Garibaldi’s Grandchild. 

These stories find themselves in a new environment, a generation grappling with expectation, another holding on tightly as they try to make sense of this new found Australia. 

As we grew up we were oblivious to lineage, to heritage and we wondered and wonder- where did I come from and where do I belong?

If we want our stories to be significant in the Australian context and the global Italian diaspora, it is our responsibility to contribute. Collectively the narrative speaks of the lived experience:

  • of women, 
  • of women of Italian heritage, 
  • of women of Italian heritage in Australia, 
  • of women of Italian heritage in Australia as a collective of the global voice. 

These stories belong to all of us. They contribute to an evolution of culture. 

Each story of Pezzi Pazzi is a shedding of skin, revealing memories that eco, confront, connect and leave a legacy, encouraging all of us to speak our truth, in our own voice, on our terms.

Pezzi Pazzi is light hearted, fun and delightfully unique.

I will read two quotes from two stories:

  • A story about Witches and the evil eye told from two people who came from the same village

“Tell me a story of witches- And so Rosa told me a story in her native tongue. My mother listened impatiently, she would much rather tell her own story.

“I’m going to write my story”, she whispered hoarsely

Great do that. That would be wonderful, we need more stories in the world. And while you’re at it write that one you just told us too.

  • Finally the story Pezzi Pazzi, a story that starts in 1960, spans four generations to 2050, about an op shop.
  • Pg352
  • Nonna talking to her grandaughter Natalie “When you were born I held you in my arms and I wondered what skills and talents you might have inherited from our side of the family and what we would need to provide for you to achieve that talent. Your great great Grandmother was a skilled dressmaker and designer, they did everything by hand back then and she dreamed of owning a sewing machine. Your great grandmother carried on with sewing and embroidery, and she ended with the sewing machine, but wanted a shop. I was given the opportunity to study and became a teacher, but after your grandfather Wayne passed away, I felt lost and only found myself again after I took up sewing. Now I have the shop.
  • That’s fascinating Nonna, there is definitely a thread there.
  • “Sometimes it takes generations for dreams to manifest”
  • And sometimes you have to be a bit crazy to step off the well trodden path and forge a new one”.
  • “Just as in times gone by everything old is new again”.

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