As a poet, Stefanile presents a series of interesting paradoxes. He was both a nationalist and a cosmopolitan. Although he consciously worked in "the American grain," his poetry was nourished by deep roots in European literature. He championed free verse but also wrote in form. From his earliest work till his final publications, he was unwilling to give up one mode for the other. In The Dance at St. Gabriel's (1995), for instance, one finds a prose poem, a sonnet, free verse, blank verse, and rhymed quatrains side by side. A lifelong student of Italian Renaissance literature, Stefanile was an unapologetic traditionalist, but he was also an advocate of he avant-garde. He translated and published the first anthology of Italian Futurist poetry in English, The Blue Moustache (1981). Finally, Stefanile was a determined individualist who nonetheless always viewed himself as part of a community-ethnic, social, political, and cultural.
- Dana Gioia