Writing in the Bar Convent’s library

FeaturedWriting in the Bar Convent’s library

This afternoon I had the wonderful opportunity of working at my Writing Genres portfolio in the Bar Convent’s library. There is something very special in writing in the library of a very old building, surrounded by dusty old books and decades and decades of history. Probably because I am working on historical material for my portfolio, I was very aware of the environment while I was writing, and it was deeply inspirational. I wrote around 500 words and then I just reflected on why I decided to engage with historical material, and war history in particular. I realised that what sparked my interest in the material was the fact that the historical facts I was researching were absent from history books.
The experience of writing about something forgotten to bring it back to life is great. But having the opportunity to write about it while sat in a library/archive that celebrates memory is even better.

You can find out more about the Bar Convent’s projects at http://www.bar-convent.org.uk or follow on Twitter @barconventyork

Roots / Radici

Roots / Radici

Roots
via Daily Prompt: Roots

An folk song from Southern Italy, roughly translated, says: “if you never forget about your roots, you will respects the roots of faraway countries”.

I have been often accused of being a nationalist because I like to emphasize how important my roots are to me. I believe the words of the folk song above explain why I believe roots are important and why I am proud of my background. Only if we know who we are and where we come from we can truly become citizens of the world, we can learn to love and respect difference as one of the most exciting features that our Universe has to offer.

My Sardinians roots are a fundamental part of who I am but also what makes me look at the world around with interest, empathy and respect.

Featured

Run Free.

“I love running – it is something you can do by yourself and under your own power. You can go in any direction, fast or slow as you want, fighting the wind if you feel like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs” (Jesse Owens).

Running is such a wonderful sport. Since I have started running regularly I have more energy and I feel younger.  Whenever I go out, for an easy run or for an harder training, I feel challenged and alive. I learned to keep going, even when it’s hard, when it hurts, when I don’t want to. I look past it. That’s what it added to my personality: stubbornness, endurance, determination, call it what you want.

Running brings me close to nature and to myself: I listen to my breathing, it is a time to be alone, to enjoy the views and forget about the problems of the day.  Every season, sometimes every day, has a different smell. Another aspect of running which I love is what it does for my health, especially my heart and cardiovascular system; the way it helps me concentrate better and to improve my memory,  to get rid of headaches and also to improve my skin tone. Being in good physical shape makes me feel better about myself and brings more confidence. Running is a good way for getting rid of stress because it literally runs off the bad hormones. Sweat cleanses me from the outside, it reaches places that a shower could never reach.

It doesn’t matter how fast or how far I go, when I run I’m a runner. It’s an inclusive sport: it doesn’t matter if it is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years; there is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get: I just run. Some people don’t see any sport in it, they argue that running lacks rough conflict. Yet the conflict is there, you against yourself, the cruelest of all opponents. To me is more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition.  When I run my adversary lies deep within me, in my ability, with brain and heart, to control and master myself and my emotions.

I love to run and since I have started training hard enough to really feel it, I discovered that running is all about freedom.

Stay Human

Stay Human

On the 24th of June 2016 I woke up early to read the results of the referendum. I stared astonished at my laptop screen. I felt like I wanted to cry, but shock prevailed over everything else. I could not believe that the majority of people had preferred division over unity.

I am what Mr. Nigel Farage would describe as an “economic migrant”. I moved to the UK from Italy in 2008, after studying Politics and International Relation for three years, to find a job and to learn English. But more than anything else what led me to leave family, friends and sunshine behind was the excitement and the curiosity to experience life in a different country, to enjoy the beauty of communicating in a foreign language, the wonders of embracing different cultures, religions, cuisines, languages and everything multifaceted that this world has to offer us. I think of myself as a “cultural migrant”, as a person that enjoys freedom of movement and makes the most of the amazing opportunities it offers. The Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci wrote that “history teaches but it has no disciples” and I believe it is the perfect description of our times, of the way in which we have forgotten the mortal perils that lie in politically manipulating hate and fear to create division.

More and more often since the Brexit vote people I know or people I meet ask me, “what are you going to do now?” I still do not know what I will have to do in practical terms or if my legal status will change, and if so when. But I am sure that I will not change my nature, I will not give up hope, I will not stay silent. Over the last six months what has saddened and worried me the most about Brexit it is not that I will have to apply for a certificate of permanent residence that will basically state the rights that I already hold, but rather the ways in which people’s fears and hate have been opportunistically used. I was bitter and angry for days when a customer at work refused to be served by me because he did “not feel comfortable with foreigners”, and when another one complained because there was “not a British cashier in the whole store”. I controlled my reactions, and I decided that I did not want to answer fear with fear. It was time to put the anger to one side and make good use of my experience as a literature student.

brexit

I will not forget what studying literature at York St John is teaching me: that my opinion counts, and that my voice can be heard, and that hearing multiple and different voices is the most enriching feeling a human being could ever experience. I have always loved literature, but when I was younger I failed to see its potential. I did Politics at University because I believed that was the only way I could play a part in changing the world. Over ten years later, I married my love for literature with the knowledge that it is the strongest weapon of all. The ways in which literature enables us to understand the ways in which the world can be described, criticized, analyzed is not only stimulating for my mind but it also what gives me hope and strength and the will to live in a world where love, compassion and solidarity are stronger than fear and hate.

Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian solidarity worker and activist who lost his life in Palestine in 2011, wrote these words that I have taken as my own since the first time I read them: “We must remain human, even in the most difficult time. Because, despite everything, there must always be humanity within us. We have to bring it to others.” So, to answer to everybody who asked me what I was going to do after Brexit: I will stay human and I will speak up for humanity, and I will try to bring humanity to others.

Originally posted on https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/englishlit/ on February the 6th, 2017.