Pordenone Legge: A Gateway to Literatures in English


The aim of this post is to invite you to attend some of the talks/readings offered by the great literary event our town offers all its citizens. Great English-speaking writers are attending this event and I am sure that both bookworms and non would highly benefit from listening to them. It would give you a sense of achievement because, though the talks are translated into Italian, you can still listen to the writer and somehow practise your English. Then it is a great opportunity listening to topnotch and world-renowned writers, an opportunity I did not have at your age. If you want to get a taste of the authors who are coming to Pordenonelegge, click here, Ms. Cimetta created an interesting post for us all.

The cob, symbol of this year’s Pordenonelegge, may symbolize the love for reading lots of us share.  Let’s have a taste of this together by getting to know one of the writers I am personally eager to listen to and read and hope you will like too.

kincaidKincaidJamaicaSeptember 21st, Piazza San Marco, 17.30

Watch the following video about Jamaica Kinkaid created by a student.  Since the audio may not be clear enough for you to understand it, follow the guidelines below which may somehow help you focus on the most relevant aspects of the author’s life and background.

  • Country and date of birth
  • Events that left a mark in the relationship with her mother
  • Consequences of her job experience as an au pair in the USA
  • “Thought it always existed and always will” (What does she refer to?)
  • Major themes of her works
  • Success as a writer
  • Her life now

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

  1. It is easier to be a girl than a boy in this world.
  2. Gender roles are pretty similar no matter what place you come from.
  3. Gender roles are pretty similar from generation to generation.
  4. Race plays a part in the way you are supposed to act.

You are going to read a text  called GIRL, included in the anthology The Story and its writer: an Introduction to Short Fiction, 2003. The context is Antigua in the 50’s.

  • While reading, think of possible answers to the following questions:

-Who is speaking? To whom?

-Why don’t either of these characters have names?

-Is the girl really “bent on becoming a slut” or is that just her mother’s fear?

-Is the daughter listening to any of this?


You can read an annotated digital version of the tex by clicking here or you can download the following pdf document.  It is up to you. If you wish, you can also listen to it, click here.

Girl – Jamaica Kincaid

-What intrigues you about this story?

-What catches your attention?

  • Spot the following themes, ideas and arguments in the text and highlight them in different colours:

1. mother-daughter relationship

2. cultural rules and expectations

3. stereotyping of women; what does it mean to be a “slut”?

4. sex roles for men and women, boys and girls

5. colonialism: how might the characters be affected by living under British rule?

6. folk remedies (“a good medicine to throw away a child…”) versus Western medicine

7. superstition

8. assimilation (playing by the rules versus challenging/changing them)

-Do you identify with the girl in this story? Why?

-If you are female, what experiences or advice helped you become a young woman?

-If you are male, what experiences and advice do you think helped your sisters, girlfriends to become women?

-If you could interview the writer, what questions would you ask her?

Now watch an interview by a Time Magazine journalist and make notes on some extra information about the author and her themes.

If you attend the event on Sunday, pay attention and write down the questions Jamaica Kinkaid will be asked during the interview. 🙂

These two quotations may add to your curiosity of getting to know a bit about this writer.

Quotation-Jamaica-Kincaid-mystery-life-self-awareness-Meetville-Quotes-212638Quotation-Jamaica-Kincaid-past-life-Meetville-Quotes-23120 Activities devised by Laura Cimetta, Cristiana Ziraldo “Liceo Grigoletti” & Nella Maccarrone “Liceo Leopardi-Majorana”.


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63 Responses to Pordenone Legge: A Gateway to Literatures in English

  1. Veronica Moro says:

    Questions which I would like to ask to Jamaica Kindkaid:
    What is the relationship between you and your brothers?
    Did you get to know them well?
    Have you a little bit of resentment towards them ’cause they “ruined” what seemed to be a good relationship between you and your mum?
    Obviously, your experiences have made you the strong woman that you are, but if you could, would you change your childhood?
    Did you have a good education? Or, did you have to study as an autodidact?
    Were your experiences to push you to write or was your passion for writing?
    What about your father?
    You wrote this sentence in “Girl”: ‘this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you’ . I’m struck by this sentence, in my opinion it is a metaphor of life, why did you wrote it?
    If you’re the girl of “girl” have you ever feel the way you’re mother described you?
    Did you believe in her words?
    Did you think you’d become how she thought you were becoming?

  2. Elidona Arapi says:

    Questions for Jamaica Kincaid
    1. Under what circumstances did you discover you wanted to become a writer?
    2. Do you identify yourself with characters from your books?
    3. Did your relationship with your mother mark you as a person?
    4. Was it hard for you to deal with the fact that people like you were considered inferior during colonialism?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if Jamaica Kincaid could read some of your questions and reply them? it would be a dream, wouldn’t it?

  3. Elisa Luisetto says:

    These are my question:
    1. What does your mum think about the book you’ve written and the person you’ve become?
    2. For what reasons have you decide to become a writer? What would you try to transmit with your books?

  4. Cecilia says:

    How has your childhood and the relationship with your mother conditionated your life and your job?

    How has work as au pair changed from that time to today?

    Did you start writing because was like your way out to the reality?

  5. Silvia Basso says:

    1 When did you decide to become a writer?
    2 How is now your relationship with your brothers? And with your mom?
    3 Is your family proud of you?
    4 If you weren’t a writer, what would you have done?
    5 If you didn’t go to the USA, would you have been a different person?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      The fifth question is really intriguing, I would love to know the answer to it:
      If you had not been sent to the USA, what do you think you would be now? A writer? What? If you had not become a writer, what would you have liked to become?

  6. Irene Piva says:

    My questions to J. Kincaid:
    1) How did you feel about the strong words your mum told you?
    2) Did you really miss your family when you where in New York?
    3) Have you ever talked to your mother after your move to New York? If Yes, how was?
    4) Do you think your books can help people to change their minds?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Interesting questions, especially the last one: “Do you think your books can help people change their minds”? If you were a renowned writer, what yould your answer to this question be?

  7. Valentina Mussio says:

    1- What did you think the first time you’ve been in another country?
    2- What or who is your main source of inspiration?
    3- What has changed in your life after your first book pubblication?

  8. Camilla Cimarosti says:

    Questions to Jamaica Kincaid:
    1- If you could go back in time, would you change the relationship with your mum? Yes or no? Why?
    2- When you wrote “Girl”, was there a message that you would like to send to the people?
    3- How have your books changed your life?
    4- In which one of your books do you identify better?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      What novel of yours do you like best?
      In your opinion, what is the point the writer wanted to make when she wrote “Girl”?

  9. Pozzi Valentina says:

    -Are you inspered by some authors in your works?
    -Are your books autobiographical?
    -What do you think about modern authors? Do you now italian authors,too?
    -How do you feel when you meet your readers?
    -What is your favourite genre of books?
    -Do you identify yourself with one of your charachters of your novels?
    -Where do you write your books, at home or everywhere?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I like this question of yours: “How do you feel when you meet your readers?” If you were the writer herself, how would you answer it?
      Were you inspired by any authors in particular?
      What are your favourite books?
      Do you identify with any of your characters?

  10. Alessandro Candido says:

    Why did you begin writing? To tell your story, to vent your suffering, or just for passion?
    What if you could have lived your experience nowadays? Would you prefer it?
    Did you forgive your mum? Did she really use to behave badly with you and call you “slut”?

  11. Giulia Petozzi says:

    On sunday I went to see Jamaica Kincaid at Pordenone Legge. I don’t remember all the questions but one was about the time, that is very important for the writer and one was about the autobiography of her books. I remember better what she answered. I would have liked to ask her this questions:
    1.How is the relationship with your brothers, who are the “cause” of your division from your mother?
    2.You said that you wanted to be a teacher, why didn’t you become one when you had the possibility instead of becoming a writer?
    3.You said that fail makes you stronger and gives you the possibility to go on writing, aren’t the negative comments pulling you down?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Your third question is really interesting. You should have asked it? “You said that failing makes you stronger and gives you the energy to go on writing. But don’t negative comments pull you down?”

  12. Alberto says:

    Questions for Jamaica Kincaid
    1)Even your mother influenced your life not exactly in a positive way, did she leave a good memory to you?
    2)How your career influenced your life?
    3)When you understood that your life would have depended on writing?
    4)When you write about things of your life, do you feel like you’re explaining them to yourself or to the readers?

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I am rewriting the questions that present some grammar problems. Next time take some time to reread them, I am sure you could spot and correct most mistakes yourself. Avoid rushing things and leave some time for proofreading.

      It seems your mother deeply influenced your life and not necessarily for the better. Do you have a good memory of her?
      How did your carrer influence your life?
      When did you understand that your life would depend on writing?

  13. Ilaria Canton says:

    1. What inspired you to become a writer?
    2. Which feeling is more present in your books ?
    3. What is your biggest goal in life?

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