As Content Director and Web Editor for PEN America, Antonio Aiello works with all departments and committees to develop written and multimedia content that is at the intersection of freedom of expression advocacy and the literary arts to give voice to PEN’s mission, campaigns, and literary programming. Aiello was responsible for bringing PEN America into the digital age, creating a strong online presence through PEN.org and PENworldvoices.org, through micro sites such as PEN’s First Editions, Second Thoughts rare books auction and PEN Tributes, and across social media platforms, FaceBook, Twitter,Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube. To connect with and expand PEN’s membership and engagement with the broader literary and arts communities, Aiello founded and continues to direct the PEN America Blog, the PEN Poetry Series, the PEN/Guernica Flash Series, the PEN Ten, and most recently the Illustrated PEN, a weekly online series that features fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism, and illustrated reportage about important and complex issues that can’t be told with words alone.
In 2015, with generous funding from FJC, a Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, Aiello founded Glossolalia, the translation magazine that publishes contemporary writing from countries and regions around the world where PEN has active advocacy campaigns or new centers.
Aiello also directs PEN’s digitization and archival project, a collaboration with Princeton University that in 2015 was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to restore, preserve, and make available to the public over 50 years of audio and video materials that provide a unique perspective on the rich history of literature’s influence on cultural and political discourse and major social movements of the late twentieth century.
Aiello began at PEN as Associate Director of the Prison Writing program under Jackson Taylor while working on his MFA in creative writing at the New School University. Together, Taylor and Aiello co-wrote and edited the most recent edition of PEN America’s Handbook for Writers In Prison, an invaluable resource and writing tool distributed free of charge to thousands of incarcerated writers each year.
Before joining PEN, Aiello was the lead multimedia designer for ABC.com, where he headed interactive initiatives to marry traditional broadcast programming with emerging technology, and designed and developed the network’s first Flash and multimedia websites. A philosophy major with a concentration in media theory from Colorado College, Aiello began his career at McCann-Erickson, Seattle, where he developed and managed the agency’s first digital accounts. Aiello studied screenwriting at the University of Washington, multimedia production at New York University, and earned his MFA in creative writing at The New School University.
As a writer, Aiello has written about and interviewed some of the world’s most influential contemporary writers including Don DeLillo, Edward Albee, Daniele Evans, Roxana Robinson, Greg Pardlo, and Xiao Qing. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in/on the Literary Hub, The Carolina Quarterly, Alimentum, Anderbo.com,RevolvingFloor, and Natural Home Garden, among other publications. He lives on a suburban homestead in Montclair, NJ with his wife, two children, and their chickens.