Literary association is ‘voice of difference’

Join the Club

Miranda MacPhail
January 25, 2007

Cultural association Grafio is a leading player on the scene of creative writing in Italy and one of Prato’s most stimulating cultural voices. The self-supporting, non-profit association promotes, free of charge, public lectures, book presentations, performances and exhibitions. The Writers’ Workshop meets on Tuesdays from 7,30-10,00 p.m. (bring a sandwich!) and has an open membership policy.

Playwriting and production is just one branch of what has become Grafio’s major field of interest, the development of creative literature in general, and to this end the Writing Workshop was launched in 1991. Members bring highly individual writing produced at home to the weekly meetings. One volunteer reads his composition aloud and afterwards the fellow members question and comment in an open and stimulating way; even today, acceptance and tolerance are hallmarks of the association’s proceedings. Apart from the members’ own writings there is also a strong dialogue with guest speakers invited from among today’s leading writers and thinkers.


In 1999, a new long-term project, Forme del narrare, was launched as an interdisciplinary research into themes of writing and multimedia regarding local, Italian and ‘other’ cultures. The project was enriched by three-day writing seminars held by writers representing some of the main cultural groups to have entered and defined contemporary Italy. Almost all the seminar leaders live in countries and write in languages that are different from where they grew up and much of the discussion focused on the creativity generated by such dual context.


The public programme of Forme del narrare (now in its sixth year thanks to generous support by the Provincia) has come to be recognized as Prato’s annual literary festival. This year’s seminar offering includes three days of talks with Trentino novelist Josef Zoderer, who examines the dilemma of his Italo-German identity within the European context, and with renowned poet Franco Loi whose verse in Milanese dialect can be seen as a refusal to join ‘Italianized’ postwar culture. The voice of difference is at the heart of these seminars.


The programme also includes performances (upcoming: actor Marcello Prayer on March 24 and poet Paola Rosati on April 3), readings and discussions with authors (such as Dario Voltolini on Jan. 20). Texts written by workshop members throughout the Forme del narrare project have been published individually and in anthologies and a public reading is scheduled for March 17.


Grafio’s headquarters in via Fra’ Bartolomeo 39, Prato (just a few steps from the city’s famous Henry Moore sculpture) is part of a former textile factory, today a blank space which lends itself to art exhibitions. Next up are Nazzareno Guglielmi (Feb. 17 to March 3) and German artist Tassilo Moser (mid March). For information visit Grafio, via Fra’ Bartolomeo 39, tel. 0574-28173 or call Gianni Cascone tel. 348-4742356.

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