Novelist Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she lived until her family fled during the communist revolution when she was four years old. This early period of her life provided inspiration for her upcoming novel, The Shadow King. After fleeing Ethiopia, Mengiste lived in Nigeria and Kenya before she eventually moved to the United States. Mengiste graduated with an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She went on to become a professor at NYU, Queens College and Princeton University. Read more
On the 20th anniversary of the death of Florence born poet Franco Fortini, today RAI Culture posts this video of Fortini explaining what poetry is:
“You can only sell a bag of drugs once, but you can sell a human being many times, and you can traffic a woman many times – even many times in one day you can prostitute her.”
The sad reality of human trafficking, and especially the trafficking of girls, in Mexico was at the center of award-winning writer Jennifer Clement’s dialogue with students at NYU Florence on September 22, 2014 – Walking on the Bones of Shadows. The story of Ladydi, the main protagonist of Clement’s magnificent Prayers for the Stolen, provides insight into the reality lived by many girls who grow up in the shadows of the drug cartels and human traffickers in rural Mexico.
Last night’s dialogue was an enlightening experience. Discussing Prayers for the Stolen provided a platform to not only discuss the literary richness of the text, but also to discuss the efforts to end the trafficking of humans, particularly women and girls. The room was overflowing–with extra chairs being brought in to make room for the abundance of guests–and silently attentive as Jennifer Clement captivated the audience with readings from her novel. Read more
As September draws to a close, La Pietra Dialogues will begin to host the In Dialogues With Writers series. The series will consist of talks with prominent authors and feature writing workshops that will be made available to NYU Florence students. This year the series will feature talented writers Jennifer Clement, Imma Vitelli and Elisa Biagini and will touch upon various social issues and topics including the European migration crisis, using literature as a form of social protest, and exploring the craft of writing and poetry. Read more
Last night’s dialogue was a new experience for me: as a freshman I had yet to understand what exactly it means to be part of a network of students and alumni. Having read and fawned over Prayers for the Stolen, meeting Jennifer Clement and learning about her writing process was enlightening and almost surreal. It was the first time I could discuss with an author the questions and speculations I had gathered while reading their work. Read more
By Blair Simmons, NYU ‘16
Over the last few months many students have engaged with the dialogues and their speakers by writing pieces on and around the topics addressed. In the first dialogue of the new year, Humanitarian Politics in Syria: Past and Present, Simon Jackson contextualized the current situation in Syria by looking at a previous humanitarian effort in greater Syria at the close of World War One. Nicole D’Alessio, a freshman at NYU Florence, wrote a profile on Jackson, giving students and faculty alike an opportunity to get to know who was presenting upon such a controversial topic as the a-political politics of humanitarian aid. Wenqi Yu, also a freshman at NYU Florence, wanted to know more about Jackson’s position on philanthropy and its role in the media, so she conducted an interview. Terence Tan, a junior at NYU Florence, was wondering about the cause of such a conflict and further looked into the (mis)development of the state. His result was a comprehensive profile of the situation in Syria.
Another dialogue series, which just concluded its introductory sessions on February 26th, was European Politics 2014: The EU in Focus. This series preceded the EU parliamentary elections taking place in May 2014. Laura Valenza covered all four of the events and produced a synopsis in which she highlights the most important aspects of each topic presented.