Saturday, 26 October 2019

Experiencing Canada


In July I travelled to Canada. It was an enthralling experience. I was in Calgary, Alberta, touring the area and carrying on with my research on Margaret Atwood. I had contacts with the University of Calgary but could not access their resources as I did not have a student visa. Nevertheless, I found interesting books at the New Central Library, an ideal place to work, study and relax. I visited Calgary and the region from top to bottom with the help of some friends, fellow poets I was in contact with through Freefall magazine, which published one of my reviews about a year ago. Before leaving I emailed the editor, Crystal, who introduced me to a fellow writer, Pam. We had an evening out together in a dancing venue and Pam invited me to several poetry events where I met the poets of the area. I attended a poetry workshop at C-Space cultural centre and three poetry readings where I read my poetry at open mics. I also attended a poetry performance with the incredible Miranda Krogstad at Arts Commons. It was a fantastic show focused on her life experience as a daughter and a poet seen from the multi-faceted and multi-cultural Canadian angle. Three languages featured in the show: English, French and American Sign Language. The videos projected on the background were superb. Here are some links to her work:



Pam took me around Alberta. I saw Banff and Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump World Heritage site with her. She was very friendly and I felt incredibly lucky to have such fantastic opportunities in a country I was visiting for the first time. In my mind everything coalesced in a more complete vision of Canadian culture that entails ancient Indian traditions and rituals, art and today’s multi-ethnical and multi-cultural aspects as well as cowboy culture. It was an enriching experience both at an academic and personal level. I had a unique opportunity to ‘live’ the country, meet people, see places I had only read about till then, as well as having a direct experience of the people, the weather and the terrain. It was thrilling and I loved it from the first to the last day. Here are some links to my Canadian friends’ works and performances:


Pam:


Crystal:

Laurie:


On 1st July I took part in Canada Day when everybody dresses in red and you get free hugs, free music and free entries to museums and cultural venues. Calgary Stampede was an awesome experience too. Two weeks of Jazz, Rock and Country music in a huge Funfair park set up for the occasion. Rodeo, Chuckwagon races, bareback riding and tie-down roping went on for days. I attended some of the events and the final Grand Stand show, Trailblazer, which ended with astounding fireworks.   

Museums, Malls and cultural sites were extremely fun though I also worked hard on my PhD thesis. Shopping was my happy time. There were so many new things to buy for me, for my family and for Italian and English friends. I bought everywhere I went and eventually I had to add a third suitcase to my luggage. Though I didn’t exaggerate in my shopping as I used all the things I brought back from Canada, mainly as presents which were very much appreciated.

Nature is paramount in Canada. In Alberta it expresses itself in the weather which is warm and sunny most of the time in summer but can also be unpredictable with sudden gusts of wind and storms occasionally. They also told me that in winter it can be very cold but suddenly the Chinook winds blow and melt snow and ice. The changeable sky and wandering clouds reflect this natural course typical of the region, which is a challenging and appealing characteristic.



It was great fun, a real holiday that inspired my writing, my studies, opened my mind to new horizons and contributed to my knowledge of Canadian culture. It was relaxing too, though I worked hard on my thesis on Margaret Atwood as well. I found interesting resources at the New Central Library in Calgary where people meet not only to read, study and borrow books, but also to play, chat, attend sessions of storytelling, music and Indigenous language. They have meetings at the Café decorated with cactus plants where you can have delicious cappuccinos and milkshakes. Wi-Fi is free, plenty of computers are available and the staff is very helpful. Studying at the Central Library was a treat. I spent a lot of time taking notes at the Café with the background noise of children.

It was a fantastic experience. I wrote about it, of course, in travel journals published by London grip. Here are the links:






The whole experience was inspirational, enriching and unforgettable. a great adventure I would like to repeat next summer, maybe visiting different regions, probably Ontario and British Columbia this time. It would be an occasion to catch up with my Canadian friends as well. I would like to spend some time in Banff too, a striking place in the Rockies with incredible green-bluish lakes and astonishing forests. Experiencing Canada in winter is on my bucket list too, that would be ‘real’ Canada!


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