Tale of Vandal Pen Collector: Some Poetry and a Leonardo Grande

April is always poetry month both nationally and in places around the globe. We’re living in a golden age of poetry. There’s so much great poetry being published and shared by poets of all ages and cultures. But I’ll keep the poetry love short and simple for you.

A haiku collection I recently finished reading and will be going back to again and again:

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms, edited by Madoka Mayuzumi, translated by Hiroaki and Nancy Soto: a collection of haiku written by survivors of the 2011 Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster. Madoka Mayuzumi is Japan’s most famous, modern haiku poet. After the disaster, she went to the area to talk with survivors. The book grew out of those interviews.

The poems are heartbreaking, beautiful, exquisite, and remind us of the power of simple expressions of gratitude. The book’s become one of my all-time favorite haiku collections.

Spring cold both house and car washed away
—Yoshino Hiroko

Hugging a pot of roses she moves to a makeshift house
—Sato Nobuaiki

both excerpts from: Madoka Mayuzumi,
So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms,
ISBN: 9798636062066

Sometimes I feel of all the writing arts, it’s poets who need the most support by buying their books. If you can’t afford to do that, ask your library to buy a book you’d like to read. You can also subscribe (as I do) to Poem a Day, a free newsletter from the Academy of American Poets, and/or American Life in Poetry, “a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, composer Ann Hampton Callaway has been writing and posting a poem every day on her Instagram account. She’s quite an inspiration.

Currently Reading

How to Love the World, a poetry anthology edited by James Crew. I need some unexpected help in loving the world, or at least the people in it, and so I chose this new poetry book to read to help remind me of the light around us.

Outside a flock of birds folds and unfolds its single body.
I start the coffee. Light comes
from impossible directions.
—Kristen Case, “Morning,” excerpt from:
James Crews. How to Love the World,
ISBN: 9781635863864

If you have any favorite poetry books or poems, please share them in the comments.


Through April, I’ll be sharing a poem (by others and maybe one or two by me) every day on Instagram.

Poetry evolved to save us from ourselves. It questions our understanding of what it means to be human and, in the process, deepens our humanity.— poet Martin Farawell

Leonardo Officina Momento Zero Grande Fountain Pen

The name’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The Momento Zero Grande was the other pen selection for last year’s birthday. There’s been a demise of some legendary Italian companies, such as Omas and Delta, and then a kind of Phoenix-rising from their ashes bringing new or revived Italian pen makers.

Leonardo Officina Italiana is one of the new companies. They’ve been clever in their releases and pricing. So much so that many of my Italian-pen collector friends have added a lot Leonardos to their collections. Like vintage Esterbrooks, it may be hard to collect just one Leonardo. Except maybe for me? Dunno.

Intrigued by the huge love my collector pals have expressed for Leonardo Officina pens,  I decided to try a Momento Grande. The Grande was chosen because it’s a big pen. Thinner pens aren’t working for my aging hands as well they used to.

The Momento’s style is iconic, reminding me of vintage Wahl-Eversharp and Omas fountain pens. The Momento’s similar in form to the old Delta Journal, a favorite pen among many of my writer pals. Not a surprise about the similarity when you consider one of Leonardo Officina’s founders designed the Delta Journal.

vintage Wahl-Eversharp

After spending too much time mooning over beautiful colors and materials Leonardo has used (acrylic to ebonite to celluloid), I went with the pen material I knew I was destined for:  the Sand with rhodium trim.

Leonardo Momento Zero Grande in Sand with rhodium trim

Why the Sand? I like the quiet presence of the material.

The layered look of the material reminded me of old Italian pens made with similar resins by Stipula.

Stipula 22 in white layered acrylic

The Sand material is far more gorgeous in person. I can’t capture its warmth and depth with my feeble photography skills. The colors shift, brown, gray, green, depending on the light.

LMZ Grande

The Sand’s truest color is represented in this photo:

LMZ Grande on astroturf

The Grande version includes an in-house crafted ebonite feed that pairs with the steel nib. The ebonite feed, IMHO, compensates for a steel nib’s dry quality, providing a nice ink flow. (Perhaps it’s the former vintage collector in me that is biased for ebonite feeds. YMMV.)

ebonite feed

While the regular Momento Zero is a cartridge/converter pen, the Grande series contains a built-in piston filling mechanism. The current piston-filler mechanism of the Grande holds nearly 1.5ml of ink. (The first versions held 1.2ml of ink.) That’s a good amount in my hand. Not perfect, like 3mls in my Edison eyedroppers, but goodly.

The blind cap, the part that turns the piston, isn’t as tightly fit as I’d like. The blind cap’s my only complaint about the pen. Here’s what I mean—am NOT twisting the cap, but you can see how much it gives to the touch:

Dunno. Not a deal-breaker. The Grande is not alone in this kind of “loose” fit of the blind cap, but once you’ve turned a blind cap that isn’t loose… it spoils you.

My pen came with a steel 1.1mm stub nib. There’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing’s exciting about the nib either. I’m surprised by my pen pals who waxed on about these steel nibs. It’s a good, serviceable nib—nothing to write home about. However, I’m glad to discover that steel stubs have improved immeasurably since last tried a few years ago. No skipping or hard starts makes a writer happy. A gold nib adds well over $250 to the same pen. Ouch.

Leonardo Officina rhodium-plated steel stub nib, sporting a Platinum Mix Free “Olive Oil” ink glow

The Momento Grande doesn’t have an ink window, so you have to get to know the pen to understand when the ink is low. Having window-less eyedroppers for several years, not having an ink window was an easy adjustment. For others, it may be a deal-breaker. Yet having a quality ink window would certainly drive up the cost of the pen.

How do you know your ink is low? The ink output feels “stingy,” a little reluctant to lay words down, and your nib feels a tad scratchy. (Thus, a reason why you have another pen inked and ready to write.)

In the photo below is my beloved Edison Huron, which is used as an eyedropper-style-ink-filled pen. The Huron’s been in active writing service since 2009.

Leonardo Momento Zero Grande in Sand alongside Edison Huron in Yellowstone

The (American-made) Edison Huron is also made from Italian acrylic. The Huron’s gorgeous material is my most favorite material ever. It’s not made anymore.

Leonardo has issued some of their Grande pens in transparent materials for those of you who really want to see the level of ink in the pen. I like transparent pens a lot, BTW, but the idea seemed to defeat the purpose of my choosing a Leonardo. I wanted some classy Italian acrylic.

My pen is numbered 1483, but the pen is not a special or limited edition. They like to number pens.

Momento Zero Grande number

Leonardo Officina makes really nice fountain pens. They are priced competitively with mid-range fountain pens under two and three hundred dollars. Although there are many limited runs made from special materials that will cost far more.

Do I love the Momento Zero Grande? The Aurora 88 birthday pen unfairly arrived around the same time as the Leonardo. I LOVE the Aurora 88. I like the Momento Zero Grande a lot. It’s a reliable and comfortable pen. More to be revealed as I write along with it.

Aurora 88 and Leonardo Momento Zero Grande

There you have it—two beautiful birthday pens; two good writer’s pens. Very grateful for them both.

Not all pen retailers carry Leonardo Officina fountain pens. I wanted to purchase one at my local fountain pen store but couldn’t. Online in the U.S., you can find them at trusted sellers like Goldspot, Dromgoole’s, and Truphae.

Thanks for reading, dear friends. Hang tough and tender, and stay kind and curious!

See you anon,

2 thoughts on “Tale of Vandal Pen Collector: Some Poetry and a Leonardo Grande

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Anne. The Huron’s quite special to me for many reasons. It was my first pen splurge. The man who made my pen, Brian, was a small boutique pen maker back then. Today his company has grown and his pens are in stores all over the world. I loved vintage Wahl-Eversharp… But collecting is a never ending chase, and I decided that was not the life for me. Those pens found new homes.


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