Issue #124

Chiara Marchelli

La "Scrivere"

I was born in Aosta and obtained my M.A. in Oriental Languages in Venice, Italy. I lived in Belgium and Egypt, then moved to New York in 1999. In 2003 I published my first novel, Angeli e Cani (Marsilio), that was awarded the “Premio Rapallo Carige Opera Prima”. In 2007 I published a short story collection, Sotto i tuoi occhi (Fazi), and in 2014 L’amore involontario (Piemme).
In February 2015 my last novel, Le mie parole per te (Piemme), appeared.
I obtained my Green Card and American citizenship because of my writing. I worked as a Creative Writing professor at Pavia University and John Cabot University in Rome. Since 2004, I have taught Italian, Translation and Creative Writing at New York University. I consult with American and Italian companies and translations agencies as a copywriter, editor and translator.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

When I don’t teach or write, I read a lot, go out with friends, explore the city, run.

What made you leave Italy and chose NYC?

Curiosity. I was supposed to go back to Cairo, where I had lived when preparing my thesis, but I changed my mind at the last minute, and came here. I didn’t know anybody in New York, I spent the first two months on the couch of a friend of a friend, and I started a new life from scratch. No plan, no connection, no job. Nothing. It is funny, sometimes, to think of how many things happened since that couch.
The original plan was to do six months in New York, six in Paris and then Cairo. I still have to do the six months in Paris.

Please share your best memory in the City.

So many. Probably the very first one. I landed and decided to take the subway to reach the friend of a friend’s apartment where I ended up staying two months. I was carrying two big suitcases and had to change subways at West 4. During the flight I had met an Argentinian guy who had gone with me up to that subway stop, but then we parted (and never saw each other again). So I was by myself, two large and heavy suitcases with me, alone, in the middle of a subway stop of New York City, feeling dizzy, excited, lost, terrified, enthralled. I didn’t even need to pull a map out: two New Yorkers approached me and kindly – incredibly kindly – asked me where I needed to go.

More exciting and crazy things happened to me, I could write for hours about those, but this one, this little, humane, banal memory is my dearest. New York welcomed me that day, with all its raw kindness.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

It is my neighborhood. The location looks rough, it was a cold day. I loved it, because it perfectly epitomizes where I live: it looks rough and harsh, but it’s very welcoming, very warm, and exceptionally beautiful.
The outfit is my usual style. I don’t like fake, I always tend to go for truth, when possible.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

I loved it the minute I saw it. It was at Casa Italiana, the night it opened. I thought that I would have loved to be part of it, and today I am particularly proud – and grateful.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

I have never thought of myself in such terms, but I realize that it’s no hollow praise. It is rather a responsibility, and – if done with commitment and earnestness – being considered as an ambassador of my own culture could turn into a unique opportunity to stimulate others to believe in what they do.
Exporting the Italian worth is important to represent who we are, although I am not fond at all of the fact that, in order to achieve one’s own professional and personal path, you must leave your country. That was not my case – I came here out of curiosity, thirst for adventure, and a deep, strong, blind need to flee as far as possible – I am referring to those who were not given the chance to find their place in Italy because of whatever reason, and obtained that acknowledgment here. Staying here instead of “home” could be perceived by them as a sort of captivity, and I oppose every form of unjust limitation to personal freedom.

  • Shots

    65

  • Time

    180 mins

  • City

    New York

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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US