Maureen N. McLane
USA | 2017
What to say? That my time in residence was wonderful, restorative, both calming and invigorating? That amidst the hectic jostle of a new and troubled year the weeks at Santa Maddalena offered a Tuscan oasis (sic)? That I reconnected with core and ongoing projects, including a new poetry manuscript and an essay on poetics? That it was an incomparably rich and varied delight to be hosted here so generously by the Baronessa and the Santa Maddalena team? That I read the work of previous fellows and of various winners of the Premio, that I re-read Gregor von Rezzori’s Snows of Yesteryear? That our small and lively crew ventured to Cascia for a sun-drenched lunch and a visit to the Masaccio painting in the museum? That notebook pages filled up with the kind of writing one (or at least I) cannot command when tightly scheduled? All this I could and do say. And I am so grateful.
I came to Santa Maddalena in March, just as the plums were starting to blossom and the olives were being pruned. When I left the plums had leafed out and the wisteria was on the verge of popping, and my inner weather had shifted from a New York winter gloom toward a true spring of fresh fields and pastures new (as Milton put it). There was a full moon; on other nights the stars I hadn’t seen for months were startlingly clear. My fellow residents, Robin Robertson and Sean Borodale, were brilliantly convivial comrades as we shared delicious meals with Beatrice and various visitors (and here, a salute to Nadeeka, until recently the cook).
Most days began and continued in a glorious silence but for the twittering of birds and the very occasional barks of Paride or Jamaica (have I mentioned the canine festival, another charming element of a charmed stay)? Then there was lunch. This was not a time for dieting.
I spent most of my days in and around the tower; I often read and wrote at the stone table outdoors—as well as frequenting the benches and tables throughout the grounds. It is amazing how much more deeply you can go into work when you are both insulated and nurtured.
These were magical and productive weeks. I am grateful to Andrew Greer for his shepherding, his care, his organizational brio and his novelist’s elán; and above all I am grateful to Beatrice Monti della Corte for welcoming me into her home and to her Santa Maddalena Foundation for sustaining this vision of creative community.