Photo by Melina Ludwig
Joe Pagetta is a communications professional and writer who began his career at the Jersey Journal in his hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. He holds a B.A. in English from Saint Peter’s University, and has called Nashville, Tennessee home for 25 years. As a personal essayist and arts writer, his writing has appeared in America: The Jesuit Review, Ambassador Magazine (the National Italian American Foundation), Today’s American Catholic, Chapter 16 (Humanities Tennessee), Ovunque Siamo, Wordpeace, Nashville Scene and PBS.org.
Currently serving as the director of communications at the Tennessee State Museum, his resume includes positions at Broadcast Music, Inc, Nashville Public Television (PBS), Nashville Film Festival and NowPlayingNashville (The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee). He was named the Best PR Guy in Nashville by the late Jim Ridley in the 2009 Nashville Scene Best of Nashville writers poll, and received a 2021 Nashville Scene Best of Nashville Writers Award for his work co-producing and directing the podcast, The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg (a Radio Play).
Recent published writings are posted below. For a more extensive list, please visit the Selected Writings Portfolio page. Thanks for visiting!
Who Wants to Read About Broken Arms?
A repost of an essay originally published here in 2015, about my mother and books.
Parents, Ask Your Children—and Yourself—for Forgiveness
In the January 2023 issue of America Magazine, a personal essay on forgiveness, grace and repair in parenting and elder caregiving. In print, it appears as "The Riches of His Grace." Special thanks to Dr. Kathleen Seabolt at the Vanderbilt University Child and Family...
Revisiting Pietro Di Donato’s ‘The Penitent’
In America Magazine, a 60th anniversary "revisiting" of Pietro Di Donato's book, The Penitent, titled "Pietro Di Donato’s ‘The Penitent’ tells the story of Maria Goretti’s tragic death from her perspective—and her murderer’s." Read more at America Magazine. Pictured:...
When Love Came to Town: U2 at Sun Studio
On the Tennessee State Museum's Thousands of Stories blog, a look back at the history and legacy of U2's arrival 35 years ago at Sun Studio in Memphis to record tracks that would wind up on the double album and film, Rattle and Hum. Read more at the Tennessee State...
When Coming of Age Was Horror Time
In Today's American Catholic, a personal essay on how revisiting lyrics I'd written for my hardcore band 30 years ago prompted an exploration of my faith and creative journey. With references to both Dorothy Day AND Ronnie James Dio. Read more at Today's American...
I need an annulment to get my second marriage blessed by the church — even though I feel it already is
In America Magazine, a personal essay about my desire to get an annulment of my first marriage, and the mix of healing, confusion, and frustration that followed. Read more at America Magazine.
Just the Way We Were
At Chapter 16, the literary magazine from Humanities Tennessee, a new personal essay reflecting on my friendship with Dennis Wilkins, who died 30 years ago when we were both 19 years-old. Read more at Chapter 16.
A Process of Discernment
Walking with Ignatius By Arturo Sosa, SJ in Conversation with Darío Menor At Today's American Catholic, a review and reflection of the new book, Walking with Ignatius, by Arturo Sosa, SJ in Conversation with Darío Menor. Read more at Today's American Catholic.
On Learning to Pray, and Reflecting on Prayer
At Today's American Catholic, a review and reflection of Fr. James Martin's new book, On Learning to Pray. Read more at Today's American Catholic.
Economic Inequality in ‘The Undoing’ and the work of Pietro Di Donato
In “An Idea” Magazine at Medium Culture, an exploration of the connection between the HBO show, “The Undoing,” and an obscure 1963 essay by Pietro Di Donato.
A Wayfaring Experiment in Democracy
In Chapter 16, a review of Against the Current: Paddling Upstream on the Tennessee River (University of Tennessee Press) by Kim Trevathan.
Review: In the crosshairs of the F.B.I.
In America Magazine, a review of Aaron J. Leonard’s new book, The Folk Singers and the Bureau, which draws from almost 10,000 pages of F.B.I. files on an array of folk artists in order to illustrate the considerable impact that the U.S. government’s campaign against...
A Pandemic in Perspective: Pietro Di Donato’s ‘Three Circles of Light’
The 1918 Flu Epidemic in Pietro Di Donato’s Novel ‘Three Circles of Light.’
Review: A meditation on dementia and loss
In America Magazine, a review of Lynn Casteel Harper's contemplative work of nonfiction on dementia and Alzheimers, On Vanishing. Read more at America Magazine.
Francisco De Goya and Brother Ray: Art and Brotherhood
In the Italian American Literary Journal Ovunque Siamo, a reflection on the early (and ongoing) influence of a De LaSalle Christian Brother on my education and love of the arts and humanities. Read more at Ovunque Siamo.
St. Jeter the Kitty Cat, Pray for Us
Sometimes transcendence comes during a marathon of potty breaks and toddler demands. At Chapter 16, a reflection on fatherhood, prayer and death. And whether animals go to heaven. Read more at Chapter 16.
The surprising true story of Pietro Di Donato, the bricklayer turned author
At America Magazine, an 80th Anniversary appreciation of Pietro di Donato's classic autobiographical novel Christ in Concrete. Read more at America Magazine.
Finding Christ in Concrete
In Ovunque Siamo, a personal essay and reflection discovering a Pietro Di Donato's 1939 novel, Christ in Concrete, much later in my life than I would have liked. Read more at Ovunque Siamo.