Identity Check

It’s hard to imagine an item in today’s news topping this one in terms of humor. Headline from “Woke diversity activists falsely accuse black DJ of wearing blackface.” Will this put a stop to the nonsense of these particular offenders? Don’t bet on it.

Recently, when Marty, NYPD retired, dropped off a book donation, he mentioned how he’d clicked on the link to my Amazon author page included in all my emails. He remarked that everything on the page seemed authentic, unlike his sister’s. He dubbed her “a drifter and a grifter.” When I said she isn’t the only writer to assume a different identity, he said something to the effect that it was far from the worst thing she’d ever done. I resisted the temptation to pry. “Erika Joyce” has published two volumes of poetry: Mushroom Tea (2011) and Brainstorm (2013). The former has a sales rank in the nine million range, the second has none, but that may be inaccurate, as the ranking of a few of my books has disappeared. Each volume has one five-star review. Here’s her author blurb, which is identical for each volume and which Marty claims is completely fictitious: “A graduate of Marymount College and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts; Erika is an accomplished actor in theater and film with an extensive background in drama and dance. From her beginnings as a child model and scenery designer, she seemed destined to be in the limelight. Erika’s discovery of poetry is her most satisfying accomplishment in her many creative pursuits. She draws her inspiration from travel, reading and meeting people. Her fertile imagination and creativity bring a fascinating perspective to her life experiences.” There is another Erika Joyce listed, a woman of color, who has written what appear to be self-help books, all three published in 2022, none having a sales’ rank. Since she hosts a podcast, I think it’s safe to say the two women are not the same person.

Marty also mentioned a cousin, Angelo Verga, a genuine poet who has three of his at least seven volumes listed at Jeff Bezos’ behemoth: A Hurricane Is (2002), 33 New York City Poems (2005) and Long & Short: including The Street In Your Head (2016). The first two have no sales rank, published elsewhere first. The third is in the eight million range and has drawn two five-star reviews. Since there isn’t a bio of him at Amazon, I googled his name and found we have a common link. He is a former owner of, also longtime literary curator at The Cornelia Street Cafe, where I participated in readings, post 2000, sponsored by an Italian-American organization. I don’t recall having met him. It was hosted by another poet, professor Robert Viscusi. Here is a Verga poem titled At the Banquet:
Muse is the center of attention
She sings in her famous language
Women unburden their souls
Men young and old are dazzled
She twirls hands over her head,
Does classic dance kicks
She whispers dreams into waiting ears
She & I eat from each other’s hands
We drink from one unending wine glass
She leans into me, “I so love gatherings,”
She says, her eyes shining into mine,
Bliss. A female who visits
Asks if we are wed or friends
Neither of us answer, then both
Of us laugh together. I find words first.
“Today, now, we are friends.
Why burden love with marriage?”

And here’s a 2001 photo of Verga from Google pictures:

The lack of parking at my usual nook had me take the floating book shop to its alternate site, and it worked out fine, no incoming, all out going. My thanks to the woman who bought a thriller in Russian, and to the one who selected Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty, Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen and Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler; and to the gentleman who purchased a book on German language instruction; and to the young man who took home several math and chemistry textbooks and Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley. I am blessed. It’s really me. It has to be. Who else would be crazy enough to sell books on the street every day?

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.