Saturday, 3 July 2021

Out on the web and the European Championship

 In all my working and creative spur, the European Championship is taking up most of my evenings. I mainly follow the Italian team, but I also like watching other teams playing. It is so interesting to see how the different sides reflect the culture of the nation they represent, and the competition is so harsh that the game becomes incredibly gripping. I loved how Italy played in the group stage, the team was focused and the players were determined to win. I was a bit anxious during the match with Austria but eventually we were rewarded. The match with Belgium was tough and tremendously entertaining. The battle was intense and non-stop. In the first half Italy scored three goals but one was offside. Belgium’s penalty reduced the Italian lead during the five minutes of extra time of the first half, but this didn’t seem to affect the Italian side. During the second half the footballers were tired and the play was more jumbled with several fouls on both sides. Italy had a one-point lead over Belgium, but it was hard until the end. Seven minutes were added at the end; it was distressful. But we made it eventually and Italy will play in the semi-final against Spain at Wembley on the 6th of July. It was a fabulous game. I must say, we deserved it. Viva l’Italia! Forza Azzurri! 

I follow England too. They did very well both in the group stage and in the match with Germany: they deserved to win. The goals scored by Sterling and Kane are the symbol of the nation’s social and ethnic background and confirm the idea that diversity is the key to win. I think they deserve to reach the semi-final and eventually the final and who knows, they might face Italy there. I was sorry that Portugal lost and Mbappe’s penalty mistake was a shame for France. The match between the Ukraine and Sweden looked like a commercial for IKEA with the players of the two teams wearing yellow and blue uniforms as the flags of the two nations have the same colours. I love Italy’s Azzurro kit and I wonder why the Italian players are not wearing it all the time instead of the white one which looks quite faded. Lorenzo Insigne is so small that he looks like a toy but he manages to dribble well from his position. Spain vs Switzerland was not so involving except for the penalties, with unexpected mistakes and missed goals. Scotland, Wales and Finland didn’t seem to match the high performances of the other European teams and so they had to quit. It is a shame, but it is also the reason why we are so gripped by this game: tough competition. The passion and commitment the players and their coaches put in is remarkable and tremendously engaging. I don’t normally follow the Italian or English league, but I am enjoying this Championship very much while I carry on with my needle and crochet works and cheer on with my family. 

Since my teaching job at ISL London ended I have had much more time to write and create. I usually write at home. My space is a rough wooden IKEA table in the kitchen surrounded by Ivar shelves packed with books and family photos. Under the table there are storage boxes with magazines and books I should read soon as well as painting materials. My knitting, crocheting and embroidery stuff is in the living room, stored in bags and wooden boxes as I like to do this kind of work in the evening while I watch TV. When the lockdown ended, I started to attend the gym again at the Woking Leisure Centre. I find exercising relaxing and inspiring in some way. I usually bring with me a magazine or a book and some writings I need to edit and alternate exercising to writing or reading. This works very well for me; I feel comfortable and can concentrate better. The café at the Leisure Centre is a nice space too with cosy soft chairs and good coffee. It is all right to work at home but sometimes changing places, meeting people or a different environment can boost creativity and help concentration.

I find the space to publish my writing in webzines and online magazines. It is a brilliant way to publish as people can click on the link and read my piece in an instant. As most people do, I spend a good amount of time on the internet, browsing social media, online newspapers, blogs and magazines. I don’t buy newspapers anymore, I read them online first thing in the morning, but I still buy books and receive a few magazines in hard copies, such as Ambit, Acumen, The British Journal of Canadian Studies and Tears in the Fence. Academic journals have online articles as well which are free to download most of the time. I have a long list of books I have recently purchased and would like to read during the summer, and maybe review some of them too. The pleasure of writing reviews is not only in the process of reading, researching and in the interpretation of the piece, but also in the practice of gathering my ideas in a logical way producing something that should be interesting as well as original. It is a challenging task that I like and enjoy. I am also working on some academic articles drawn from my thesis that I intend to submit to journals, and I have recently become a reader for Litro magazine UK. I read short stories that have been submitted to the magazine and give my feedback. The editors then decide whether to publish the piece. It is a very interesting job that gives me the opportunity to read a lot of prose and practice critical thinking from the other side of the fence.

Here is my list of books for the summer:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Magnetic Field by Simon Armitage

Break it down by Lydia Davis

The collected stories of Lydia Davis

Fierce Bad Rabbits by Clare Pollard

Citadel by Martha Sprackland

Talking Heads by Allan Bennet

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Like Fado by Graham Mort

Melt by Sarah Hymas

Pepper Seed by Malika Booker

The Tangle Box by Dave Kavanagh

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Anthology of Illness (Emma Press)

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

Men Who Feed Pigeons by Selima Hill

Tigress by Jessica Mookherjee

Margaret Atwood’s Juvenilia writings

The excellent David Cooke published some of Eugenio Montale’s poems Keith Lander and I translated some years ago in The High Window. Here is the link:

And Poetry in Surrey libraries published my poem ‘Umbrella’ here: 


In this country of rain and sunny spells

with arches of trees along narrow roads,

ochre and burnt sienna in autumn,

lusciously green in spring and summer,

valleys and hills surface the landscape.

Dreams are daffodil-shaped,

wisteria-buzzing, hydrangea-blooming,

the fountain splashes in Lakeside drive, 

the shape of an umbrella.

But gusts of wind rattle behind the lanes,

echoes of machine guns from faraway lands

washing shadows of corpses on our tranquil shores.

Shaken for a moment we think we can fix it,

mend the wrongs that dig holes in our stomach,

make their world similar to our world.

We say, whatever it takes we will give, 

they will live,

though seasons pass unrelenting.

One more poem is here:

Spilling Cocoa: To my first boyfriend 

My flash fiction piece ‘The Porcelain Doll’ was published by Toasted Cheese: 

And ‘Bianca’ and ‘Balloon’ are on Backlash Journal 5, June 2021 

Here are the links to reviews and articles published in magazines and webzines:

Dearly by Margaret Atwood (Tears in the Fence, issue 74, summer 2021)

Magpie Almanack by Simon Williams

Postcolonial love poems by Natalie Diaz 

Swim with me in deep water by Penny Sharman 

Digigram by Barbara Henning 

How to wash a heart by Bhanu Kapil 

When Peter Sellers came to tea by Trisha Broomfield 

When listening isn’t enough by Rodney Wood 

When women fly by Sarah Pritchard 

The years by Jamie McKendrick 

This kilt of many colours by David Bleiman 

Yield by Claire Dyer 

How to wear a skin by Louisa Adjoa Parker 

Breakfast at the Origami Café by Tess Jolly 

Later in July my sons are coming to visit us, and we will see more of Valentina, my autistic daughter. In August I hope to go to Italy to see my mum, but I haven’t booked the flight yet as the anti-Covid rules change from week to week sometimes both in Italy and in the UK and I want to be sure I will come back without any problem. In Rome the weather is horribly hot and humid (35-40 C) in July and August. This worries me a bit as I am used to a much cooler weather now, but I haven’t been with my mum since December 2019 and I know she longs to see me as well as I long to see her. In the meantime, I enjoy my pot garden, cycling in my area and the comforting sunny spells and gentle breeze of Surrey.

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