Meeting Nada

Hello again! Once again, I got so caught up in writing my research article that I forgot update you guys. Last time I spoke to you about my research and now I finally get to tell you about the time I spent with the poet who was the main focus of my research, Nada Skaff. I flew from Paris to Naples where Nada was waiting to pick me up at the airport. My flight was late so we had no time to go to my hotel because Nada had an exam for her teaching degree that she had to go to. She asked me if I wouldn’t mind going with her and I got goosebumps. Being the nerd I am, I was thrilled and interested in meeting Italian students who wanted to become French professors.

When we got to the classroom, everyone was so gracious and warm. They all addressed me in Italian and I struggled for a few minutes before Nada told them I spoke French. When we made the switch, I was relieved. They thought I was Nada’s son at first, but then she told them I was there to interview her about her poetry and everything then made sense to them. The exam took four hours, but they were allowed to talk while taking it so I engaged in French, Italian, and English conversations about their lives and interests. Even the professor was unbelievably kind. Seeing that I was getting tired, he asked me to follow him to the bar where I had my first experience drinking Italian espresso while standing at a counter. He didn’t speak any French because he was the technology professor, but we had an enlightening conversation in my broken Italian about the distinct dialects of the country. For example, I learned that in the Neapolitan language, people say “fare dell’acqua” which literally translates to “to make water” instead of “piovere” (to rain).

After the exam, Nada took me to my hotel where I took a quick shower and nap and she later came back with her husband, Nino. They wanted me to have the best in town (which turned out to be the best pizza I had ever had). Once we got to the restaurant, Nada ordered a sampling of various Neapolitan appetizers like prosciutto with freshly-made mozzarella, fried eggplant with ham and cheese, and fried zucchini flowers. Afterwards, she ordered all sorts of incredibly fresh pizzas with a crust that could have made angels cry!

As we sat drinking red wine and admiring the ambiance, we began to discuss our love for the Lebanese-poet Nadia Tueni (who will be the subject of my French honors thesis) and she showed me the necklace she made dedicated to the poet. I then did my best in Italian to ask Nino about Nada’s poetry and learn how they met. As we talked, I just kept forming more questions in my head that I would spend the next day asking her. It was a perfect beginning to my two-day poetic discovery of Nada Skaff.

After some creamy gelato, Nada and Nino took me back my hotel and we made arrangements for the next day. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience in Italy–what else could I ask for besides good food and good discussions about poetry?


  1. ehchen01 says:

    That sounds absolutely incredible, to be able to meet the focus of your research and ask your questions in person. I’m also really impressed that you can speak all those languages and travel. This sounds like an amazing experience, and I bet that it added a layer of authenticity and life to your research.