Lerici Pea “Liguri nel Mondo” Prize

The Lerici Pea “Liguri nel mondo” Prize was created in 1994 and it was called “Poeti Liguri nel Mondo” (Ligurian Poets around the World). The LericiPea Association wanted to create this section to give value to those “emigrated” Ligurians who lived abroad and kept sending their poems to the Prize. The section immediately obtained the fundamental support of the Immigration Department of the Ligurian Region: they understood the importance of the project, and still support it today.

The very first texts came from America, Switzerland and Germany, and rarely they were poems written in proper Italian. Often they were written in an “invented” language that the authors retrieved from their families’ old local dialects and from the linguistic structures of their new mother tongues. Although the writings were “touching” and showed a very deep need of being in touch with homeland, they were not consistent with a Poetry prize. Then the time passed we started to receive good poems, written in a good Italian by people who still had some contact with their homeland.

The very first winners of the Prize include: Sergio Wax (1994) from Genova, who emigrated to Belem, Brazil, in 1975; Lionello Grifo (1995), a politic interpreter in Luxemburg, Brussels and Geneve and lives in Spain from 1982. In the 2000s something changes: we realised that if we wanted to keep this section alive, we had to expand our horizons and address a larger audience, and not only Ligurian poets living abroad. So, the name of the prize became “Ligurian Poets, Writers and Artists around the World”, and it was the right choice. In 2001 we awarded Sandra Mortola Gilbert, not only a poet but an American literary, feminist and psychoanalytic critic. She was born in New York but her parents came from Mortola (Ventimiglia), Liguria, and she won the Guggenheim Fellowship Prize for human sciences, USA and Canada, and was named for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.

In 2002 we awarded the American artist and sculptor Drew Bacigalupa, who lived all his life in Santa Fè, New Mexico. Many of his works are exhibited in churches and other places of worship in the USA, as well as in many galleries all over the world. His father-side ancestors were from Cicagna (Chiavari, Liguria), as he says in some of his poems, where he describes a newfound sense of belonging to his land. In 2003 we awarded Roberto Bertoni, who was born and raised in La Spezia and then in 1981 moved to Dublin, where he taught Italian language and literature at Trinity college; in 2006 it was Enrica Guana’s turn, a Ligurian classical dancer who moved to Seoul, South Corea, to attend the Universal Ballet Company; then she moved permanently to Texas, accepting the offer of the Texas Ballet Theater which brought her to success. In 2008 we awarded Massimo Maggiari, a Genoese poet and writer who lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where he teaches Italian and “cultural studies” at the local university. Then it was Michele Rovetta’sturn, an orchestra director from Camogli whom the director Daniel Barendoim chose as a “substitute teacher” at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, and then as stable Director of the Halle theatre; in 2010 we awarded Martina Bacigalupo, a photographer from Genova who has worked for years as freelance photographer in East Africa, mainly in Burundi, with many international NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Care, Handicap International). In 2010 she won the Canon Female Photojournalist Award. She’s also a member of the Agence Vu in Paris.

In 2013 the well-known Vanessa Beecroft, from Genova, exhibited her site-specific works in some of the most important museum and galleries in the world, such as the “Biennale” in Venice, Long Island City, Seul, London, Paris, Berlin, Sau Paulo in Brazil and also at our Camec Museum in La Spezia; in 2014 we awarded Ireno Guerci, a photographer from Lerici, who has been living in the utopian city of Auroville, India for manu years now.

The Prize is very much appreciated and loved by the public, and it still keeps growing. In 2015 the architect Lucilla Del Santo transformed this section into the most heterogeneous and significative one. For five years the Prize has been awarding not only poets, writers and artists, but all those Ligurians who have distinguished themselves for becoming worldwide “Ligurian excellences”. In 2015 the name of the Section was therefore changed to LericiPea “Liguri nel Mondo” Prize.

In 2016 we awarded the engineer Tommaso Colliva, who moved from Lerici to America and became a benchmark for rock music – he also won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album (“Drone”, by the rock band MUSE). In 2017 we awarded David Bellatalla, who in his youth moved from La Spezia to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and became professor of audio-visual and cultural anthropology at the Mongolian National, where in 2006 he opened a reception center for street children (“La Casa della Speranza”, The Home of Hope). In 2018 it was the turn of Giuseppe Scognamiglio, the Ambassador of Kuwait, who grew up and studied in La Spezia and brought Liguria in his heart during his career; in 2019 we awarded the Genoese Alessandra Pierini, an entrepreneur who lives in Paris and decided to organize the preliminary competition of the Pesto World Championship in Genoa; she was nominated Ambassador of Genoa in the world by the mayor Bucci for having honored not only her city but also the Liguria Region.

In 2020 and 2021 we awarded three other great figures: the architect Renzo Piano, the designer Stefano Giovannoni and the photographer Mario Cresci… and the best has yet to come!

Adriana Beverini

2000 – Piero Soave
2001 – Sandra Gilbert Mortola
2002 – Non assegnato
2003 –  Roberto Bertone
2004 – Michele Baraldi
2005 – Carlo Caruso
2006 – Enrica Guana Tseng
2007 – Francesca Albini
2008 – Massimo Maggiari
2009 – Michele Rovetta
2010 – Marco Casentini
2011 – Martina Bacigalupo
2012 – Marino Magliani
2013 – Vanessa Beecroft
2014 – Ireno Guerci
2015 – Federico De Leonardis
2016 – Tommaso Colliva
2017 – David Bellatalla
2018 – Giuseppe Scognamiglio
2019 – Alessandra Pierini
2020 – Stefano Giovannoni
2021 – Mario Cresci