arts&sciences | Spring 2010

Book It

By Jean Hennelly keith

Macaroni and Cheese Manifesto

By Steven Biondolillo (CAS’77), 2009

Steven Biondolillo’s life is about going the distance. On the wrestling mat, in English lit classes at Boston and McGill universities, and in the fundraising arena helping nonprofits raise hundreds of millions of dollars, he exudes drive, discipline, imagination, and endurance.

Born in New York to parents he describes as “outlaws,” he lost his father at age six, and, along with his siblings and dysfunctional mother, spiraled into a young life of poverty, winding up a ward of the state. His one oasis was a concrete city playground, where he exercised his natural athletic prowess. Placed in an orphanage for boys for his middle and high school years, his began to enjoy success in the classroom and on the wrestling mat, ultimately breaking through to an adult life as an innovative business leader and a creative writer.

His first poetry collection, Macaroni and Cheese Manifesto, evokes bright moments on city playgrounds, the pain of being an outcast, the intense camaraderie and competition of athletics, and the mysteries of ancient conflicts. It’s available at

Biondolillo is founder and president of Biondolillo Associates Inc., a marketing and development consulting firm in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is a 1999 Arts & Sciences Alumni Award winner.

Zarma Folktales of Niger

Translated by Amanda Cushman (CASí06), Quale Press, 2010

As an undergrad at CAS, Amanda Cushman wanted to learn an African language, so she took her junior spring semester abroad in Niger. Ambitiously, she studied both Hausa and Zarma, along with French, and by studying native dance, music, and crafts—including apprenticing to a leather maker—she was captivated by the cultures she experienced in Niamey, Niger’s capital.

When a teacher presented her with a book of Zarma folktales in French, she became intrigued with the people and traditions it portrayed and set about to learn more.

Cushman’s translation of Zarma Folktales of Niger is the first time the stories of this lesser-known population appear in English, preserving Zarma culture in a broadly read language. Based on oral tradition, the tales’ topics range from lessons in ethics and morality to animal-naming exercises to humorous farting contests. Cushman’s highlights of Niger’s history and regional tribal relationships lend helpful context for readers.

Cushman is an associate editor at Dana Press in Washington, D.C., the imprint for the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research. She edits publications about neuroscience for lay audiences. Learn more at