Winter at Civitella

Those of us who live in Umbria love the winter season. Visibility is enhanced by the cold and the smell of wood smoke from farmhouse chimneys is in the air. Hiking and walking become a daily routine. The quiet and the solitude make an ideal environment to get work done.


As of 2017, you as Civitellians can partake of that still, lovely season as well. We are happy to announce that ten of our residencies will be available to you for the months of January, February, March and April. All apartments have heat and cooking facilities and all have Wi-Fi. Minimum stays of one week are encouraged, but priority will be given to longer stays. Meals are not offered in this time period.

Our staff will be on hand to assist you. Paola in the office has the keys to the Civitella car, which we will make available to you at a mileage fee. If you envision consistent or daily use of the car, we strongly suggest renting a vehicle of your own. Paola can help with photocopying or mail, appointments or questions. Diego, too, is full time at the Castle as of February 1 to assist with any technical issues. Dana is back and forth from New York in this period, but both Patrizia Caini, the head of housekeeping and Maurizio, the custodian and gardener are full time.

If desired, occasional meals can be catered by Patrizia for a small fee as requested. The Castle gym (rowing machine, treadmill, stationary bicycle, weights) will be open as well as the communal Open Studio equipped with great lighting and work areas, hand tools, electric tools, some art and construction supplies. The Castle Library collection, now at 10,000 volumes including the Mark Strand library, although cold, will be available to you 24 hours a day.


Below are our available spaces and the rate per night. Email to reserve your rooms now, as spaces for 2018 are quickly filling up.


This is the most beloved of all the composers’ spaces at Civitella. A free-standing house just outside the Civitella gates, Pizza was has a master bedroom that sleeps two, a full kitchen and bathroom, and a beautiful studio with glass doors that open to the private grounds and gardens. Our Steinway grand piano is in this studio space and available for your use.
60 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 80 euro. 

Arco is not unlike a gondolier’s house in Venice. One enters on the ground floor and walks up a flight of stairs to the main floor with its small kitchen and work area. A comfortable armchair looks out to the best view of the castle of any of our apartments. Another flight of stairs brings you upstairs to the bedroom and bathroom. This is ideal for a writer.
45 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 65 euro.


Granaio is housed within the castle walls. A flight of stairs brings you up to a long spacious loft space with a full kitchen, living room/sitting area, bedroom and bathroom with tub and shower. This is where grain was stored in the early days of the Castle, but now for years it has become a favorite studio for composers and writers. An upright piano is included here.
50 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 70 euro.


Castrabecco Su
This is the upstairs floor of the farmhouse known as ‘Castrabecco.’ It is ideal for two or three people and includes a large master bedroom with its own bathroom, a studiolo, another smaller bedroom with a private bathroom, living room with working fireplace, and full kitchen. The views from this apartment are spectacular. 
50 euro per night per person.


This is our newest refurbished mini apartment. On the ground floor of Castrabecco, this is a one room studio ideal for a writer. One enters through glass doors to a double bedded bedroom that shares space with a small kitchen (two burners only), kitchen table, comfortable reading chair. Full bathroom with tub, nice desk area for working.
40 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 60 euro. 


Tinaia is one of our newly restored spaces overlooking the Secret Garden. It has a private entrance, beamed ceilings, efficiency kitchen, bathroom with shower, and a livingroom/studio with a baby grand piano. The piano, just restored, belonged to Ursula Corning's mother.

45 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 65 euro.



Giardino is one of our newly restored spaces overlooking the Secret Garden.  It consists of a bathroom, kitchen, and large studio/living area. Terracotta floor tiles, beamed ceilings, private entrance and magnificent views of the secret garden.
45 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 65 euro.



Lulu is a perfect space for a writer or scholar. One enters through the gallery to a one room apartment with a full bath (including bath tub and shower), efficiency kitchen, and small table/work area. The apartment provides easy access to the Secret Garden.
35 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 55 euro.



Upupa is a stone and brick ground floor apartment close to the offices. The studio/kitchen looks out over the lush green lawn in front of the castle. It is full of natural light thanks to large glass doors. A newly remodeled bathroom separates the studio/kitchen from the bedroom.  The entire suite is accessible for those with mobility issues.
45 euro per night. Double occupancy rate, 65 euro.

Please contact Diego Mencaroni ( to request dates for 2018. 

Support Civitella
Pictured: James Muriuki (CRF 2017)

Carissimi Civitellians,


Thank you for your continuing contributions over the past many years.


In 2018 we will concentrate more on people and programs than physical spaces. We increasingly worry about artists in danger internationally and those who have seen their mobility curtailed. We want to do our part to give these artists respite at Civitella, and to ensure that those needing to travel for their work can do so safely.


We ask you to help replenish our Fellows' Fund designed to help Fellows with less resources be fully included in all residency activities. We want to offer more robust gallery programming, stronger alliances with Italian cultural agencies, and deeper ties with underrepresented nations.


Your donation to our general fund is a direct investment in realizing these goals. Every gift, regardless of size, is valuable and deeply appreciated. Please join the many Fellows, Guests, and Friends who support Civitella each year and give as generously as your situation allows. Our work has never been more important!


Dana Prescott, Executive Director

The New Minimalists
Abrons Art Center, New York

The group exhibition, The New Minimalists, curated by Sarah Burney, in on view at the Abrons Art Center and presents the work of nine emerging contemporary artists including Civitellian, Shahpour Pouyan (CRF 2016). The show's reception is taking place Wednesday, January 31, 6-8 PM. 

The New Minimalists presents the work of nine emerging contemporary artists, Abdolreza Aminlari, Niyeti Chadha, Noor Ali Chagani, Sam Chun, Jordan Nassar, Shahpour Pouyan (CRF 2016), Freya Powell, Lauren Seiden, and Joseph Shetler. Working in a variety of media, these artists maintain the sparse aesthetic, abstraction, and re-examination of the hierarchies of traditional art materials and processes that defined historical Minimalism. Yet they distinguish themselves as part of new generation of practitioners, more inclined to replace the monumental with the intimate, draw inspiration from craft instead of industry, and overtly marry formalism with the personal and political.

Sarah Peters and Michelle Segre in Conversation with John Newman
Safe Gallery, Brooklyn

On Saturday, January 27, Sarah Peters and Michelle Segre (CRF 2016) will be in conversation with John Newman (DG 2014) at Safe Gallery where a survey exhibition of Newman's work is on display. 


Saturday, January 27, 1 PM

Safe Gallery 

1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY


Heidi Julavits Reading
Civitella Ranieri, 28 Hubert Street

Please join us on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 for a reading with Heidi Julavits (CRF 2014) at Civitella's Hubert Street office. The critically acclaimed author of four novels and a memoire, Julavits is a founding co-editor of The Believer magazine and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She will read from her most recent work, The Folded Clock, a New York Times Notable Book.


Wednesday, February 7, 6:30–8:30 PM
Civitella Ranieri Foundation
28 Hubert Street, New York 


Please RSVP to
Seating is limited
Wine and light refreshments will be served

Alberto Savinio and His Other: Nivasio Dolcemare
Center for Italian Modern Art

Franco Baldasso (CRF 2017) will introduce Savinio's fascinating literary inventions and his many doubles, commenting upon excerpts from Savinio's texts read by the poet Sara Fruner.


Thursday, February 8, 6-8 PM 

Free Event

RSVP required.

A multifaceted and versatile artist crossing the boundaries of disciplines and genres, Alberto Savinio also multiplied his own self in autobiographical novels and stories through the invention of innumerable masks of his own persona. Among his many fictitious characters, however, one stands out: Nivasio Dolcemare. Nivasio is not only an anagram of his nom de plume, Savinio (itself a surreptitious name to distance himself from his brother de Chirico); it is also Savinio’s doppelgänger, a fictive character who shared his own childhood in Greece, his avant-garde friendships in Paris, and his career and marital life in Rome, but cannot be fully superimposable on his author. Nivasio is one of the keys to Savinio’s metaphysical enigmas. His recurrent presence in Savinio’s stories dissolves the contrasts between autobiography and surrealism, and between fiction and memory, with irresistible comic effects.

Terrance Hayes Reads Matthew Dickman
Poetry Podcast, The New Yorker

Terrance Hayes (CRF 2015) joins Kevin Young to read and discuss Matthew Dickman’s (CRF 2016) poem “Fire” and his own poem “New York Poem” on The New Yorker's Poetry Podcast. 




Four Civitellians Named Finalists for the Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards
Claremont Graduate University

Claremont Graduate University recently announced the selection of the finalists for the 2018 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards.


More than 470 titles were submitted by individuals and publishers for consideration this year. Ten finalists (five for each of the two awards) were chosen by a finalists judging committee led by Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine.


Among the ten finalists are four Civitella Fellows. 

For the Kate Tufts Discovery Award: 

Mai Der Vang (CRF 2017), Afterland, Graywolf Press


Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award:

Paisley Rekdal (CRF 2017), Imaginary Vessels, Copper Canyon Press

Patricia Smith (CRF 2017), Incendiary Art: Poems, TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern UP

Monica Youn (CRF 2013), Blackacre, Graywolf Press




Ocean Vuong Receives TS Eliot Prize

The Guardian announced that Ocean Vuong (CRF 2016) has been awarded the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for his debut collection of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds:


"After becoming the first literate person in his family and a prize-winning poet festooned with awards, Ocean Vuong has now won perhaps his most prestigious accolade yet for his debut collection: the TS Eliot prize...Vuong is only the second debut poet to win the TS Eliot prize, two years after Sarah Howe [CRF 2017] became the first, winning for Loop of Jade in 2016."


An Italian translation of Vuong's Collection is available here.

Link to the full Guardian article below. 



Thumbnail photograph: Adrian Pope, The Guardian 

Ron Padgett Receives the Frost Medal
The Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America announces Ron Padgett (CRF 2003) as the 2018 recipient of the organization's highest award, the Frost Medal. 


The Frost Medal is presented annually for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. 


The Annual Awards ceremony, which will honor Ron Padgett and celebrate the winners of the Poetry Society of America's 11 other annual awards will take place on April 10th, 2018 at The National Arts Club in New York City.

Molding / Mark-Making: 
Ceramic Artists And Their Drawings
Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City

The group exhibition, Molding / Mark-Making, featuring work by Elisa D’Arrigo (CRF 2013), opens Sunday, January 21, 2-5 PM at Dorsky Gallery, Long Island City. The show is curated by Margaret Mathews-Berenson and Allison Peller and runs through March 25.  


January 21 – March 25, 2018
Opening reception: Sunday, January 21, 2:00–5:00 PM

11-03 45th Ave., Long Island City, NY

Barbara T. Smith: Outside Chance
Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Andrew Kreps Gallery presents its second exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Barbara T. Smith (CRF 2014). Since the 1960s, Smith’s work has demonstrated an engagement with issues of spirituality, gender, and power, making vital contributions to both feminist discourse, and the history of West Coast performance art. The works in the exhibition focus on her early use of technology and her engagement with the scientific community. 


Exhibition Dates: January 18 – February 24, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 18, 6-8pm
537/535 West 22nd Street, New York

John Newman: Between the Literal and the Nonsensical
Sculptures and Drawings, 1982-2017

A survey exhibition of sculptures and drawings by John Newman (DG 2014) opens January 10th at Safe Gallery in Brooklyn and will run through February 11th.  


Curated by Dan Nadel

Opening January 10, 6-8pm

January 10-February 11, 2018

Safe Gallery, 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn 

Safe Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of sculptures and drawings by John Newman from the last 35 years. The seed of the exhibition is Newman’s completion of 65 drawings, for his 65 years, while in France in the summer of 2017. Newman thinks of, and titled, these drawings as Developing Old Negatives: Bringing extant images to life again. Some are drawings of existing sculptures from Newman’s 40 year career, some are speculative spaces, and others are ideas for future sculptures.

Surface & Substance
The Painting Center, New York

The group exhibition, Surface & Substance, featuring work by Elisa D’Arrigo (CRF 2013), opens Thursday, January 11, 6-8 PM at The Painting Center. The show runs through January 27. 

The Painting Center presents Surface & Substance featuring ten contemporary artists including Elisa D'Arrigo (CRF 2013). At once ordinary and intimate, the relationship that accrues between artists and their respective mediums evinces practical considerations relating to material properties, as well as the embodiment of  distinct aesthetic purviews.E 2 - 27, 2018


With Surface & Substance, curator and painter Hester Simpson highlights this dynamic by focusing on ten artists for whom surfaces are responses to a world of shifting values and chaotic changes. Paul Behnke, Elisa D’Arrigo, Shane Drinkwater, Daniel G. Hill, Elizabeth Knowles, Mario Naves, Carol Salmanson, Mary Schiliro, Jane Schiowitz and Simpson herself alternately emphasize the rough-hewn and the seamless, the casual and the resolute. In doing so, they channel currents of the broader culture even as they hone their own peculiar visions.

Judith Linhares: The Way She Goes to Town
Various Small Fires (VSF), Los Angeles

Various Small Fires (VSF), presents The Way She Goes to Town by Judith Linhares (CRF 2006). The exhibition feautres a selection of Linhares’ most recent works, largely produced over the course of the past decade. The exhibition runs concurrently with Out of My Head, an historical survey of Linhares’ works at Anglim Gilbert Gallery.


Opening Reception: January 12, 6 - 8 PM

Exhibition Dates: January 12 - February 24, 2018


Various Small Fires (VSF)
812 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90038

In the high desert, where I was raised by Amazons, the days were long and the nights were longer, alas, Cinderella had left twenty years before my arrival. I was borne to a red headed body builder: whose sister was a blond disk jockey, a spinner of fast and loud music. My mother’s mother could not change a tire, but often struck out on her own driven by a dark longing to visit the children from her first marriage. This tribe of women thought it was important to drive a car, ride an unbridled horse, swim in the wild sea, carry a heavy load, earn your own money, make a fine bowl of porridge and know where the fuse box is. This is a true story.


– Judith Linhares, 2018

The Dark Side of the Gold Rush
The New Yorker

Annie Gosfield (CRF 2008) was featured in the New Yorker's Musical Events section of the December 11 issue. 


By Alex Ross 


"Gosfield, a New York-based composer with a virtuosic command of classical, pop, and avant-garde styles, began the score before “fake news” entered the lexicon. Like [Orson] Welles, she places the reality-bending power of the media under scrutiny."

The Art Students League Appoints Michael Rips Executive Director

The Art Students League of New York announced that prominent arts advocate and collector, Michael Rips (DG 2017) has been named Executive Director. 


Photo by Ric Ocasek

Sakshi Gupta: I Marvel at Your Forgetfulness
Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna

Galerie Krinzinger presents I Marvel at Your Forgetfulness, featuring recent work by Sakshi Gupta (CRF 2011). The exhibition runs through January 13, 2018. 



“The body of works shown in the series, I Marvel at Your Forgetfulness” hints at a playful exchange between the two selves that reside in each of us – the performer and the silent observer. Each vying for the other’s attention, they share a relationship that seems comparable with that of lovers. Drawing joy even from each other’s forgetfulness in love, devoted to each other and yet deriving much pleasure by teasing the other – the title is suggestive of a very intimate yet complex relationship we share with ourselves.


Spaces that occupy our breath, memory, dream; form our constant companions but are rarely given the nourishment of our attention. The works in this show are a gentle push towards making a journey into these lapsed spaces that also contribute towards the entirety
of all that one is. A journey that must necessarily be made in the companionship of the person that one supposes himself to be.”

-Sakshi Gupta


Shahpour Pouyan: "My Place is the Placeless"
Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

Lawrie Shabibi presents My Place is the Placeless, the third solo exhibition in Dubai of New York-based Iranian artist Shahpour Pouyan (CRF 2016). The exhibition, which will run from November 6, 2017 through January, 2018, will feature an installation of 33 ceramic domes alongside works on paper that investigate notions of identity and nationality.

Call for Interns for the 2018 Season

Civitella is seeking interns for the 2018 residency season. Candidates should be able to commit to a minimum of six weeks between the start of May and mid-November, and availability should correspond as closely as possible to the start and end dates of the residency sessions. Preference will be given to candidates with longer periods of availability in order to maintain as much consistency as possible during the season. Application deadline is 31 December.

For full information please follow the link below.

Sun Xun: Tears of Chiwen
Arario Gallery Seoul

Arario Gallery Seoul is proud to present Sun Xun's (CRF 2013) solo exhibition Tears of Chiwen from September 6 to November 5, 2017. The artist recently concluded his Time Square Arts project that projected his 3-D animation work Time Spy on the billboards of Time Square every night for three minutes until midnight. Sun was also invited to show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York for their exhibition Tales of Our Time adding another exhibition at a major art institute in New York since his Metropolitan Museum exhibition Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China in 2014.

Sopheap Pich: Hidden Nature
The Crow Collection, Dallas, TX

The Crow Collection of Asian Art is pleased to announce the presentation of a solo exhibition of the work of Sopheap Pich (CRF 2013), which will be on view until January 7, 2018. 


This exhibition will feature his large-scale sculpture, Rang Phnom Flower (2015), his most ambitious single-form sculpture to date. Twenty-five feet in length, its complex construction is composed of hundreds of strands of rattan and bamboo. The sculpture is that of the cannonball tree (“rang phnom” in Khmer), which in Southeast Asia is associated with the sal tree under which the Buddha was born.

Du Yun wins 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music

Angel’s Bone by Du Yun (CRF 2015) has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The annually awarded $10,000 prize is for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the previous year. Angel’s Bone, which features a libretto by Royce Vavrek, received its premiere on January 6, 2016, at the Prototype Festival, 3LD Arts and Technology Center, New York City. The Pulitzer jury described it as “a bold operatic work that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.”


Civitellians at the Venice Biennale

We are proud to share that Civitellians Michele Ciacciofera (CRF 2016), Mingwei Lee (Fellow, 2018), Taus Makhacheva (CRF 2016), Sopheap Pich (CRF 2013), and Liliana Porter (CRF 1999) will show work at the 2017 Venice Biennale central show, “Viva Arte Viva.” It opens on May 13, 2017 and will be on view until November 26, 2017.


Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler (CRF 2016) and Carol Bove will show their work in the exhibition «Women of Venice» at the Pavilion of Switzerland. 

Civitella featured in the Italian Insider

The Italian Insider featured Civitella in "Civitella Ranieri- A haven for international artists," which discusses Civitella's history, mission, diversity of Fellows, and engagement with the local community. The article also highlights the importance of Civitella as an institution that provides a safe haven in which Fellows can work and share ideas. 

2017 Guggenheim Fellowships

Congratulations to Christopher Stark (CRF 2012) and Annie Gosfield (CRF 2008) on winning 2017 Guggenheim Fellowships!

Read more here about Christopher Stark.

Read more here about Annie Gosfield.


On April 6, 2017, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of 173 Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-third competition.

Samantha Schweblin: Fever Dream

Samanta Schweblin's (CRF 2011) Fever Dream received a glowing review in The New York Times. Below is an excerpt: 

"To call Schweblin’s novella eerie and hallucinatory is only to gesture at its compact power; the fantastical here simply dilates a reality we begin to accept as terrifying and true. A woman named Amanda lies on a hospital gurney, recounting her story to David, a boy who pushes her to relive the events that have brought her there, wrapped in the rough sheets of her deathbed, able to talk but unable to move."

"She describes traveling with her young daughter to a vacation rental outside the capital and meeting David’s mother, who immediately insinuates that something so monstrous has happened to David that she no longer considers him her son. 'The first time they put him in my arms, I was so anxious. I was convinced he was missing a finger,' she says, remembering when she had a new mother’s ordinary fears. 'What I wouldn’t give now for David to simply be missing a finger.'


The tale that follows is a swift descent into phantasmagoria, as the dialogue between Amanda and David — translated into lucid English by McDowell — turns into a cleareyed reminiscence of horror and a struggle for narrative control. “How different are you now from the David of six years ago?” Amanda asks. “What did you do that was so terrible your own mother no longer accepts you as hers?” Damaged children, a degraded earth, souls that move between bodies but never find rest: Schweblin’s book is suffused with haunting images and big questions, and in Amanda she places a mother’s all-consuming love and fear for her child. Amanda remembers how she would constantly measure the “rescue distance” that separated her from her daughter. As the distance tightens, as Amanda feels that her daughter is closer than ever, she will learn the grim and fateful lesson that maternal instincts count for little in an insidiously poisoned world."

Celeste Maia artist book video

Presentation of an artist book by Celeste Maia (CRF 2010) on the turbulent and dangerous 14th Century love story between Ines de Castro and Pedro of Portugal.


Carolyn Forché wins Windham-Campbell prize

Congratulations to Civitellian Carolyn Forché (CRF 2012) on winning a Windham-Campbell prize in poetry!

The Windham-Campbell prizes are global English-language awards that call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Prizewinners receive an unrestricted grant of $165,000.

Winner of the 2017 Walt Whitman Award
Jenny Xie

We are happy to share that Jenny Xie is the winner of the 2017 Academy of American Poets' Walt Whitman Award, the nation’s most valuable first-book prize for a poet. Xie’s manuscript, Eye Level, will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2018, and she will receive a six-week residency at Civitella Ranieri as well as $5,000.

Civitella Ranieri in The New York Times

Civitella Ranieri and chef Romana Ciubini are featured in The New York Times in "Umbria, Italy’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret, Is Budding" by Julia Moskin. Read the article here.


You may purchase The Civitella Cookbook: Recipes from our Castle Kitchen for a $25 donation on our donate page.

Mark Strand Booklet
Anywhere Could be Somewhere: Remembering Mark Strand

2016 Intern, Elinor Kirchwey, created the booklet Anywhere Could be Somewhere: Remembering Mark Strand from compiled memories, anecdotes, and stories about our much-loved friend and poet, Mark Strand. It is available for a donation of $15, which includes shipping. You can purchase a booklet on our Donate page here.

Civitellians Featured in 'The Artist Project'
The Artist Project at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The following eight Civitellians are featured in The Met's The Artist Project (videos are linked). The Artist Project is an online series in which The Met gives artists an opportunity to respond to its encyclopedic collection.


Xu Bing (CRF 1999)

Petah Coyne (CRF 2005)

Deborah Kass (DG 2009)

Nalini Malani (CRF 2003)

Kerry James Marshall (CRF 1998)

Sopheap Pich (CRF 2013)

Liliana Porter (CRF 1999)

Martha Rosler (CRF 2009)

James Siena (DG 2010)

From March 2015 to June 2016, The Met will invite 120 artists—local, national, and global—to choose individual works of art or galleries that spark their imaginations. In this online series, artists reflect on what art is, what inspires them from across 5,000 years of art, and in so doing, they reveal the power of a museum and The Met. Their unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art encourage all museum visitors to look in a personal way.

Over the course of six seasons, The Artist Project will share the perspectives of one hundred and twenty artists with the public, telling us what they see when they look at The Met.

Mark Strand Library Gift to Civitella
Foundation will receive the late poet's books

The poetry world was recently hard hit by the death of Mark Strand in November, 2014.  Mark, who had been a frequent visitor to Umbria and to Civitella Ranieri Foundation, had been planning a return visit in the summer of 2015.  His lifelong friend, Yale painter Bill Bailey, lives just minutes from the Castle, and during the summers when Mark was not visiting Civitella, he was visiting Bill.


It was at Civitella that Mark wrote most of his last book, Almost Invisible, a collection of prose pieces.  He usually wrote sitting in the sun at the picnic table in what is called the Fellows' Garden.

Over the past several years, Mark had moved from Chicago to New York, and then from New York to Madrid, and back to New York.  With each move he pared down his library.  “There's only about 400 books that really mean anything to me anymore," he said.  "I just want to get down to 400 books.” Civitella was the lucky recipients of his cast-offs.


His initial gifts of books to Civitella numbered 1200 volumes, primarily poetry in English, but many books of poetry in Spanish and Italian.  There were numerous volumes of literary criticism, philosophy, the Classics, and books on theory. 


Many of the books were sent to him from hopeful writers with handwritten notes still inside them reading something like, "Dear Mark, Great to meet you last night and thank you for your interest in my work.  Here as promised is my latest book...." 

The last time Mark was a Director's Guest at Civitella, in 2011, he was reading the new translation of Don Quixote.  “I don't want it to end,” he said, “I am reading it so slowly because I don't want to finish it.”


Shortly before his death, writer Jean McGarry was a Fellow in residence at Civitella.  She had been a friend of Mark's during his Baltimore Johns Hopkins days, and she wrote often to him to tell him about her experience in Umbria.  It was she who convinced Strand to give the balance of his library to the Foundation, to keep the collection together, to which he agreed.  He wrote to her, “I love giving books to Civitella. They are needed. I just keep thinning out my library.”


While she was still in residence at Civitella, Jean helped Executive Director Dana Prescott prioritize his books for cataloguing.


Jean wrote to Mark, “What an experience today, going through the boxes of books you sent to Civitella.  I always knew you were a reader, and you never recommended to me anything that didn't become a part of my brain and soul, but still, I was staggered by what I saw.  Dana and I made a short list of things that need to be catalogued and shelved NOW.  We will return and make a second, third, and fourth selection, but every one of these books is a treasure.  I hope you plan to promise the rest of your library to this magical place, where you are the genius loci.  They will be​ read and treasured (and studied) with the utmost reverence.  (I hate to use that word, but yesterday, we went to San Sepolchro, and I am suffused with the spirit of your beloved Piero.)”


With Mark Strand's will just out of probate, his daughter, Jessica, has told the Foundation that Civitella stands to inherit the balance of this great personal library.  Another 3500 books will arrive shortly and the Foundation will begin the work of cataloguing each volume, and making the books accessible to its Fellows and Director's Guests.  Eventually the collection will be posted on line and also made public to visiting scholars.

Donations to support the installation and cataloguing of the collection at the Castle are welcomed.  Please visit for details about giving to the foundation or to contact us with questions.  Civitella Ranieri Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 operating foundation based in New York.  All US contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.