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Maia Gil'Adi, Interview & Writing Sample

In Capital Letters (ICL): What do you want remember about the program in 10 years? 

I will remember the people I met, the two or three lasting friendships I made, the professors and students who inspired me—Richard singing the song from the Dead to our workshop, David talking passionately about Rilke to our translation class, sitting in Dr. Dussere's office discussing the power of Toni Morrison's language. I will remember this time as an incredible opportunity, a time to explore and learn. 

ICL: From being part of the program and participating in workshops and the Visiting Writers series, what do you think are the most important things you have learned about your own writing?  How has your writing changed?  

I learned that to develop as a writer one has to actually sit down and write, and to write without being afraid of making "mistakes"—that writing does not have to be beautiful all the time; one has to make room for details, for numbers and dates.

ICL: What is your favorite quote or line from a book?  

“(I do not know what it is about you that closes/and opens; only something in me understands/the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)/nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." —e.e. cummings

ICL: What have you read most recently that inspired you?  

Goodbye Columbus by Phillip Roth. 

ICL: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.  

I cry when I watch the Olympics.

ICL:  If your life had a theme song right now, what would it be?  

"Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles.


Writing Sample

They would eat lunch at the club, the girls sitting in the grass on their towels interchanging small unrelated phrases as they stuffed their small mouths with the butter sandwiches Roberto would make them. “First you take a piece of bread,” he would say, picking a slice carefully from the basket on their table. “See? It has to be thin, with good crust.”  Olivia and Gabriella would stare at the bread intently, mouths slightly agape, lips drying slowly while they gawked. “Next, you take an excellent piece of butter. Yes, like this one.” And he would hold the knife with them, engulfing their hands in his. “Put it on the top. Yes, but don’t smear. It ruins the taste if you do.” And the girls would look at him in wonder. How could he know these wonderful things? This man with white hair and deep crevices in his face. There it would sit, the butter sandwich, a slender piece of bread, almost invisible now under the wad of butter that lay on top. But the girls would plunge it into their mouths, smiling with glee.

The car would always start with difficulty, choking and barking, slowly beginning to shake. Suddenly the humming would start. A high-pitched “brrrr” coming from the inside of the car. Roberto would look back at the girls, eyes wide, face filled with amazement. “I think he’s back,” he would yell. And he would run out of the car and open the hood, the girls looking out the window, mouthfuls of teeth. The hood would creak open as he propped it with the rusted bar. Leaning his body forward, listening with care, theatrically holding a hand up to his ear, he would reappear at their window, kiss them both and say: “Yes, it’s Carmelo; he’s back in my car.” And he would open their door, inviting them to stand next to him, to listen to the bird that lived under the hood of his white Aspen.

They would stand looking into the machine, the chirping in the car getting louder. “I think he’s hungry,” Roberto would say, looking knowingly into their faces. Springing onto their toes, knowing what would come next, the girls would hold out their hands, making little bowls with their fists. From his pants pocket Roberto would take out three pieces of bread, remainders from lunch. And they would stand in a straight line, Roberto between the two girls, facing the white Aspen, and throw little pieces of bread into the motor. The bird would feast, and the chirping would stop. “Well, that’s better. All happy and full. Now, we can drive.”

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Maia Gil'Adi