Category Archives: Creativity

Belonging in Anghiari – Fabio Cecconi

For the past couple of years, I have been conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some are conducted in Italian, some in English, and they are all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari in spring this year, I continued this project.

Appartenenza ad Anghiari – Fabio Cecconi

Fabio ha 38 anni ed è sempre vissuto ad Anghiari dove lavora nella segreteria della Libera Università dell’Autobiografia, la LUA, fondata nel 1998 da Saverio Tutino e Duccio Demetrio. Ho intervistato Fabio nel suo ufficio che si trova in piazza del Popolo nella parte medievale della città. L’intervista si è svolta in italiano ed è poi stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio. Questa è una versione editata.

Fabio1Io sono nato qua ad Anghiari, vivo qua da sempre, a parte i viaggi all’estero, però alla fine sono sempre tornato. Ho avuto un’infanzia felice, bellissimi amici, bellissimi ricordi, piena di attività vere, nascondino, rincorse, giocare a pallone, non avevamo il cellulare, FB, WhatsApp, eravamo felici, anzi forse più di adesso, perché senza questa tecnologica avevamo l’obbligo di vedersi, se volevi parlare con una persona dovevi vederla.

Continue reading Belonging in Anghiari – Fabio Cecconi

Belonging in Anghiari – Marco Seri

For the past couple of years, I have been conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some are conducted in Italian, some in English, and they are all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari in spring this year, I continued this project.

Appartenenza ad Anghiari – Marco Seri

 Marco è il figlio di Paola Foni che avevo intervistato nel 2018. È il più giovane dei tre figli di Paola e vive a casa dei genitori ad Anghiari mentre studia canto al Conservatorio “Luigi Cherubini” a Firenze. Quando non deve andare a Firenze, Marco incontra Paola alla fine del suo turno del mattino al caffè Garibaldi, qualche volta con qualcun altro della famiglia che adesso include un nipotino, Leonardo. L’intervista si è svolta in italiano, è stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio. Questa ne è una versione editata.

 MarcoSono nato a Sansepolcro il 15 agosto del 1997. All’età di quattro o cinque anni sono andato all’asilo nido, vicino a casa mia, a San Leo, vicino a Anghiari. In seguito ho frequentato la scuola elementare qui ad Anghiari, per cinque anni, dopo sono andato alla scuola media “Leonardo da Vinci” per tre anni… si trova vicino a piazza del Popolo, vicino alla scuola di musica. In seguito, dopo aver finito le scuole medie, ho frequentato il liceo artistico “G. Giovagnoli” a Sansepolcro, con indirizzo architettura. C’è stata una piccola storia per quanto riguarda la classe: verso la fine della terza media sono arrivati i rappresentanti delle scuole superiori della zona, per indirizzarci al proseguo degli studi. Io inizialmente avevo deciso di iscrivermi sempre al liceo artistico, ad Anghiari (allora si chiamava istituto d’arte) in quanto avevano iniziato un corso che si chiamava Liuteria, che prevedeva l’apprendimento per la costruzione, manutenzione di strumenti ad arco, violini, viole, violoncelli. Purtroppo le classi non furono organizzate, quindi io sono stato spostato a Sansepolcro, con indirizzo architettura. Continue reading Belonging in Anghiari – Marco Seri

Belonging in Anghiari – Andrea Calli

For the past couple of years, I have been conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some are conducted in Italian, some in English, and they are all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari in spring this year, I continued this project. Here is the first of these interviews.

Appartenenza ad Anghiari – Andrea Calli

 Andrea ha 47 anni ed è vissuto tutta la sua vita ad Anghiari. Insieme al fratello Giulio continua la tradizione di famiglia di restauro del mobile. L’ho intervistato nel loro negozio che si trova ai limiti del paese, nel quartiere La Croce, che ha preso il nome dalla croce che si dice san Francesco avesse piantato proprio là.  Dopo, Andrea mi ha fatto vedere la loro bottega che si trova in fondo alla strada per Tavernelle. L’intervista è stata effettuata in italiano, poi trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio e la seguente ne è la versione editata.Andrea

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Meeting

 

During my stay here in Anghiari, I am learning anew the significance of Martin Buber’s claim that ‘all real living is meeting’. On reflection, what makes life here meaningful for me here is the quality of the encounters I have. It’s what I often write about in these posts. When an encounter has the quality of a meeting, I come away from it feeling quite simply happy and alive.20190511_114413_1558160478716_resized

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A Day of Sun

Everyone had something to say about it. The sun had appeared, it felt like spring today. This, after days of extremely cold weather, winds, rain. Anghiari has not had the extreme weather that has hit much of Italy, because it is sheltered by the surrounding foothills of the Apennines. However, people say they have never experienced weather like this before in May. And, they have been unable to do the spring planting in their kitchen gardens.20190516_120307_resized

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Working with a Transcript

Colleagues of mine recently asked me to ‘teach’ them how to write first-person narratives using interview transcripts. What method did I use? What were the steps I followed? How long should they be? Did I edit out stutters and conversational fillers? Did I correct grammar?

They knew I had written first-person narratives before and knew that I advocated it as a honest and accessible form of sociological writing.  That is true, so I was happy to comply. However, what happened next surprised me. I found it incredibly difficult to describe how I edited a transcript or why I made the editorial decisions I did. Instead of a series of techniques to be learnt,  I found myself coming back to the form of relation I was in when undertaking the editing. What follows is one of  many attempts to describe how and why I work with interview transcripts. Continue reading Working with a Transcript

Hold Nothing in Reserve

One.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

A few years ago I read the Gospel of Mark with some friends. We moved slowly and carefully through the text, often spending a whole evening on just a few lines. One passage that struck me was the ‘feeding of the 5000’. In that story Mark describes the miracle of the fishes and loaves in which Jesus turns a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into food for 5,000. At the end of the story Mark says, ‘They ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up the twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over’.

Those twelve basketfuls of leftover bread troubled me. I recall badgering my fellow readers about it. Why the excess? God knows the hairs numbered on your head, why not stop with food sufficient to feed the 5,000? Why create more than was needed? What would happen to those extra pieces of bread? Would they be eaten the next day or would they go to waste? What could this excess mean? Was it a symbol of luxury, a Gallilean potlatch?

My naive questions, generously accommodated by my friends, bellied a genuine concern about wasteful excess. But what I didn’t realise then was that the feeding of the multitudes isn’t a story about consumption. It is a story about what is given. It is a story about the abundance of a love sufficient to cover us all, a love that isn’t limited by number, a love available to any who might come.

‘Here, my brother, my sister, come and sit with us. We have food enough for you’. Continue reading Hold Nothing in Reserve

Thank you

I didn’t know what I was going to say to you today. Only on the train, on the way in here, did it become clear. I realised that I’d been given the very thing that had to be said.

Absent-mindedly driving to work yesterday, I stopped at traffic lights. Waiting to cross the road were a mother with a toddler in a stroller. The child was turning around to engage the mother and something about the intensity of their moment shook me from my half-life. I saw them: I saw how alive they were. For them, everything in the world was unfolding from this moment together, whereas for me it was only the empty time between leaving home and arriving at work. At the corner of Darley and King Streets, Newtown, at 11.10am on Thursday 2/11/17, two worlds touched, one a half-world of befores and laters and the other a vital moment of here and now.

What came to mind, unsought, was Pieter Bruegels’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, and Auden’s poem about it, Musée des Beaux-Arts. These two have been constant reference points in my adult life. When I got my first academic job, at Macquarie University in 1984, the first and almost only decoration in my office was a print of the painting, with Auden’s poem glued to its back. Somewhat pompously, perhaps, it was to remind me of the role of sociologists: to witness the suffering that would otherwise go unnoticed. In 1989, the picture came with me to my office at UNSW, and it stayed for decades, until the foxing became too embarrassing.

(Wikipedia) Continue reading Thank you

Belonging in Anghiari: Andrea Merendelli

While I was staying in Anghiari at Christmas time, 2016-17, I began conducting interviews with people who live in the town. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English. They will all be published in both languages.

Il senso di appartenenza ad Anghiari: Andrea Merendelliandrea_1

 Andrea è il direttore del teatro di Anghiari che ha sede in un magnifico palazzo settecentesco. Sono arrivata nel suo ufficio mentre stava per concludere un incontro sui futuri eventi con un gruppo di giovani, inclusa Armida Kim, e durante tutta la nostra conversazione c’è stato un continuo viavai di persone. L’intervista, condotta in italiano, è stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio e questa ne è una versione editata.

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The Writing Life – Homage to Annie Dillard

One.

I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win. You abandon your masterpiece and sink into the real masterpiece  (Leonard Cohen)

Two.

In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard talks about an American writer who has written a dozen major books over six decades. A book, she says, can take years to write. But this writer wrote one of his books, ‘a perfect novel, in three months. He still speaks of it, with awe, almost whispering. Who wants to offend the spirit that hands out such books’? (Dillard, The Writing Life, 13).

She describes the heroism it takes to write a book. The impossibility of the task and the humility required to meet it. ‘Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine stuff that the work needs it, or the world. Courage, exhausted, stands on bare reality: this writing weakens the work. You must demolish the work and start over’ (Dillard, The Writing Life, 4).

The book, finally completed, conceived in your mind and constructed through your efforts doesn’t belong you. It never has. It came to you through an act of grace, unmerited. That it came to you at all is still a mystery. All you remember is the struggle, the awful daily struggle to find the words, the unease which remained with you from beginning to end: Can I do it? Can it be done? It was horrible. It almost killed you. It did, in fact, kill you and what was left in the wake of that devastation was the work, for which you are grateful. Continue reading The Writing Life – Homage to Annie Dillard