Dance of the Pen

Going to Father Robert Palladino’s [1969-84] calligraphy class was like going on retreat. The classroom was a quiet haven. Normally edgy students were calm as milk. Palladino demonstrated letters with a brush on big pieces of paper, and he put them in historical and aesthetic context. Then he would set us a task and wander the room as we toiled. Sometimes he would talk as he walked, waxing philosophical or telling us about some awful lettering he had seen earlier in the day on the side of a truck.  I think a big part of what made it special was that we weren’t expected to talk, or even particularly to listen, but just to focus on plying our pens in a care-taking way. Although I never developed much skill as a calligrapher, I learned enough to forever change my perception of letters in everyday places. I treasure the mediocre little book I made as my class project. And those periods of quiet practice in his classroom helped me through an otherwise stressful time. So here’s to the memory of Father Palladino, with gratitude.

—Steve Lindsay ’81

Victoria, British Columbia