Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview with 'My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily' by Gilda Morina Syverson

Gilda Morina Syverson, artist, poet, writer and teacher, was born and raised in a large, Italian-American family in Syracuse, New York. Her heritage is the impetus for her memoir My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily. Gilda’s story was a Novello Literary Award Finalist previously entitled Finding Bottom: an Italian-American woman’s journey to the old country.

Gilda’s award winning poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, magazines and anthologies in the United States and Canada.  She is also the author of the full-length poetry book, Facing the Dragon, and the chapbook, In This Dream Everything Remains Inside. Her commentaries have been aired on WFAE, Charlotte, N.C.’s public radio station.

Gilda moved to Charlotte, NC after having received an MFA in Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from Buffalo State College. Gilda has taught in the Creative Arts for over 35 years including memoir classes and workshops for Queens University of Charlotte, The Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius, N.C. and at various other locations. Her fine art has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally. Her angel drawings and prints are in a number of collections throughout the United States, Canada and Italy.
Gilda lives outside of Charlotte, N.C. with her husband Stu.
For More Information
About the Book:

In this multigenerational memoir, My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily, our author travels with her Italian-born father, Italian-American mother, and very-American husband to the villages of her
ancestors. This trilogy tale leads the reader through ancient sites of Rome, landscapes of a picturesque countryside, seaside villages of Sicily, olive trees in the valley of Mount Etna, while contrasting an emotional journey between a father and daughter.

Former North Carolina Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti, says, "My Father's Daughter: From Rome to Sicily" is a travel book in every sense. Syverson - a savvy, funny, elegant tour guide - expertly escorts us through the gorgeous time-locked terrain of Italy, but also along the often precarious byways of the heart. This book risks everything: its humanity, its courage, its sheer unbridled candor, the moving sweep of its poetic language and its refusal to turn away from the breathtaking mystery of love and ancestry.

For More Information

  • My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Besides being a writer, poet and teacher of memoir, I am an artist. I have worked on an angel series for a number of decades, although the angels have been put on hiatus during the promoting of my memoir. I love to walk, read, bike, see my family, siblings and parents, all of whom live at a distance. That means travel is in my world.  I love traveling not only to family, but also to Italy and to England and other parts of Europe. If I cannot go over the deep blue ocean, I am in the car with my husband traveling from North Carolina to upstate New York, New England, and other places in between. Travel is always part of my life. 

When did you start writing?

I starting writing stories and poems about 30 years ago beginning with children's stories and soon moving into poetry. Memoir grew out of my poetry, which I also continue to write. During my MFA program in Fine Arts, many years ago, my Writtens and Thesis came quite easy to me. When I moved into creative writing, it wasn't a surprise when words and ideas flowed naturally.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

The most pivotal point of my writing life was writing commentary in the late 1990's at Charlotte's NPR station WFAE. Before one of the reporters would record my already approved commentary, we would review my writing together there at the radio station. He went straight for the jugular, and then left me alone to trim down and rewrite any words, lines or phrases that weren't completely relevant to the topic. I appreciated every bit of those sessions. They were great lessons on being focused and editing my words needed for clarity and content. My time writing and airing my commentaries was a jump on the confidence scale.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I would go to England, probably Glastonbury. I'm drawn into the mythology of the British Isles, have a great interest in the Arthurian legends and the mystical Avalon, along with the Celtic influence, the architectural structures of the monasteries, medieval abbeys, castles and all of English history. I love England!

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

If I had 4 hours of extra time today it would be a miracle. I would sit and start Elena Ferrante's newest book, The Story of the Lost Child.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven't done yet?

There are two stories that come to mind. One is setting a story in the Glastonbury region of England, possibly the mystical Avalon. I would also like to write a series of individual stories of growing up with seven siblings in an Italian-American home.

Back to your present book, My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily, how did you publish it?

Laura Ponticello published my memoir through Divine Phoenix and Pegasus Books.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

My entire book was about a travel experience to Italy and Sicily. The journey itself was research about my ancestry.

Why was writing My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily so important to you?

I had always wanted to travel with my father to his Sicilian village where he was born and raised until the age of 15. The experience of being in Italy and Sicily with Dad, seeing things through his eyes, hearing the stories of his life helped me to understand, not only my father and his family, but where I came from, how my ancestors lived, who I am because of my heritage. Also getting to travel with my mother on that trip to her family's village was an extra bonus, an additional lesson on my maternal heritage.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

My best ideas come from dreams and meditations. I am an avid dreamer, and have written my dreams and turned them into poetry for over 25 years. It is through my unconscious mind, during my dreams and meditations, that I learn about what is really haunting me, what to do with those hauntings and what to pay close attention to in my life.

Any final words?

The way I teach memoir writing classes and workshops is similar to the way I handle my dreams. I use techniques to get people out of their conscious minds and pull up memories that live deeper within. I believe in the power of our own stories. If we begin to understand our history, then we can write about and do whatever it is we long to fulfill.

No comments:

Post a Comment