From Civil Engineering to Art - Meeting with Alessandra Maltoni
by Maria Teresa De Donato
Today her friend and colleague author Alessandra Maltoni from Ravenna is revisiting us. Some time ago, Alessandra participated in my column Amazing Italy in another interview entitled San Giovanni Battista - History and culture of a Ravenna church. She presented us with a real tourist jewel of Ravenna, which was also the theme of one of his publications.
There are many things to say about her, but, as usual, I prefer my guest to do so.
Enjoy the reading!
MTDD: Hi Alessandra, and welcome to my Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon again. It’s a pleasure to have you back with us today.
AM: Thanks for the invitation. It’s a pleasure to be a guest on your Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon.
MTDD: Alessandra, why don’t you start by introducing yourself by telling us a little about yourself, your studies, your interests, your activities, and anything else you want to share with our readers?
AM: I live in Ravenna, the city of mosaics and Dante. I attended the Technical Institute for Surveyors and studied civil engineering; I was fascinated by an experimental scientific discipline: from physics as a study of energy, it has been an interest of mine for many years. Energy is an essential concept for happy living. I read much scientific literature dealing with these issues: passive house, quantum physics, mathematics and poetry, and mathematics and art. I like to walk, and when I can, during the weekend, I go for a walk in the pine forest or by the sea, or in the hills. Ravenna, located strategically, allows me to reach beautiful natural places with luxuriant vegetation quickly. I volunteer in a particular association or where they ask me to contribute by donating my little free time. If I am helpful, I do not hold back. My work requires a lot of commitment and attention.
I am the owner of a Cultural Services Center with multifaceted activities. My center collaborates with a professional training center, and we provide online courses on language, typing, and IT certifications for Ata rankings and are recognized by the Miur. We offer a service for the recovery of school subjects and assistance for years of recovery. I collaborate with publishing; I write book prefaces, review them or present them on assignment. My new poetic text will be released next year: “Spazi di parole” (= Words’ Spaces). I like to keep myself busy. I participated in the Mogol Poetry Grand Prix and was selected and admitted to a poetry course at the Mogol estate in Umbria; on November 12, I will be at the Dante center of the Franciscan Friars Minor in Ravenna to talk about poetry and the course of Mogol.
MTDD: Your biography indicates that you have a technical-scientific background, specifically in civil engineering.
How did you move from this area to writing and art in general?
AM: I am going to answer you through a quote: “However, in my view, the most severe damage of the scientific illusion of Engineering lies in the consequent drying up of the imagination, freedom in the preparation, development, and enhancement of constructive intuition, which, unique, they can create the work beautiful, cheap and stable.”
(from Pier Luigi Nervi, Science or art of the Engineer? in “The engineer: the technical magazine of the National Fascist Engineers Union,” n. 7, July 1931, p. 474).
Pier Luigi Nervi was one of the protagonists of twentieth-century civil engineering. He argued that engineering is not separate from art. I studied texts by great thinkers such as Nervi; I realized that developing intuition and imagination was essential to understanding living in the round and art as a valuable means. Not only that, my interest in quantum physics and the importance of energy transmission led me to experiment with communication and poetic thinking. I did not go from engineering to art; I set out to have a complete vision of life. I remember a university physics lesson. While the teacher explained the study of the motion of a ball fired from a cannon, he made an analogy with Italo Calvino’s rampant baron. Then he said: “If you don’t get it, you can leave the classroom.”
AM: I agree. It takes a lot of intuition and mental flexibility not to be indifferent. Many publications talk about mathematics and art, physics and art, engineering and art, and meetings like these: https://www.orderingegnerirovigo.it/pinking-2022-lingegneria-e-arte/. Also, my father passed away prematurely and asked me to do something useful on the last day of his existence. Understanding energy as a function of health was something valid. Art therapy is essential for various diseases.
MTDD: I fully share your thoughts.
One of your publications was “Questions between the port and the sea” (Publisher The Author Books Florence, Library 80) which was the leading actor of the “Book Fair” held in Scilla, Calabria, in the autumn of 2009.
Do you want to talk about it?
AM: It is a short story, narrative, set in Marina di Ravenna, autobiographical. The protagonists are a curious child and his aunt willing to seek answers. It is a text from the reading of “The Little Prince”; it was the muse of this work, which in 2010 won the Delfino award in Tuscany, ‘Sea’ Section. In Scilla, I was invited by a publisher from Milan. I was the event’s protagonist and met many writers, poets, and professionals. At the Ruffo castle, I was interviewed by the journalist Gabriella Lax, and I took a writing course with the Terre libere publishing house. It was a great experience; I enjoyed myself, apart from the disappearance of the luggage, which arrived several hours later at the hotel.
MTDD: You co-author the poetic anthology “The word and its landing” (Edizioni Helicon).
Can you share your experience with us and explain why you decided to participate in this initiative?
AM: I took part in this initiative because it was curated by Rodolfo Tommasi, a critic and journalist I met in Poppi, who passed away years ago. I esteemed Tommasi. The anthology was part of the poetry series “I quaderni dell’airone” (= The heron’s notebooks). “Fronde di trame” (= Textures’ Fronds), the title of the collection that I handed over to the Helicon and Tommasi editions of me, wrote: “The group of lyrics that the author delivers to our miscellaneous choice thus further delineates the already well-rooted character of a coherent and vivid writing as much as the profile of an undisputed personality.”
MTDD: An excellent recognition. Well done!
AM: Indeed, it was. Thank you.
MTDD: “La parola e i suoi approdi” (= The word and its landings) is an exciting title.
What are the main aspects of this anthology and especially of your poems published in it?
AM: This anthology was composed of the work of four authors. I quote Tommasi’s words to underline my production in this text: “Fronde di trame, condenses the essential coordinates of a poetic, and highlights with particular incisiveness the importance that the element of perceptual sensitivity assumes in this poetics, that is the pulsation of life that flies over the inexplicable while leaning over the vastest and most true horizons of existence making them its own. “
MTDD: Deep and equally significant analysis. I’m happy for you.
AM: Thank you, Maria Teresa.
MTDD: Thank you for sharing it with us.
Your poetic collection “Traces of poetic reflection” was a finalist at the “Trofeo Penna d’Autore 2004” International Award in Turin.
What are the main themes and features of this literary work of yours?
AM: It is a work published in 2001. It is part of a series of contemporary poetry for the Libroitaliano types. The series hosts essential Italian and foreign poets and represents, in the opinion of authoritative literary critics, a fixed point in the Italian poetic panorama. The authors who took part are the result of a careful editorial selection made with a view to dialectical confrontation and growth. I participated in the competition to get involved and dedicate something to my father and uncles. They both died at the age of fifty. The themes: affections, existential values, the environment, the observation of elements I encountered, illusions, and false ones.
MTDD: Your publication “The onion church a stone’s throw from Dante” was a literary work we presented during our previous interview. We want to remind our readers that you wanted to dedicate your work to your grandmother, who has always been a lover of that church.
Is there any other detail regarding the church of San Giovanni Battista that you did not mention in the previous article and that you would like to talk about?
AM: The publication was presented at the Italian cultural center in Paris and awarded at the Sorbonne University by Professor Prestigiacomo, journalist and art critic. I wish to thank her again for her esteem of my work and my person. My grandmother was pleased with this book, and I hope that San Giovanni Battista can be reopened to the public and find funds to preserve its constructive and artistic heritage. It is a gem near Dante’s tomb.
MTDD: I hope so too. Italy has an immense artistic heritage that must be protected in every possible way. I hope this church can find the necessary funds it needs.
Are there any other books you’ve published or participated in that we haven’t mentioned yet?
AM: “Poetic Patckwork” by Prof. Elena Gagliardi. It was a volume of poetry created at the request of the publisher Nuovi poeti of Milan and published at their expense, as one of the lyrics won the contest È solo Poesia 2006. Cà Vento, 2022, a poetic notebook published by the European Academic Cenacle Poets in society.
MTDD: Have you had other honorable mentions and awards for your literary works? And if so, which ones?
AM: The Navarro Prize 2021 for my collection “Poetry will change the world.” This year I was appointed head of the European Academic Cenacle for Poets in Society for Ravenna.
MTDD: Alessandra, should our readers wish to contact you or buy your publications, how will they do so?
AM: They can buy them online or contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org
MTDD: Thank you, Alessandra, for participating in this interview. I hope to have you again as my guest in the future.
AM: Thank you.