Memoir writing workshops include how to capture food and cooking – the Italian way

STATEN ISLAND, NY — When Casa Belvedere Program Director Beatrice Alecci asked Maria Giura to lead a writing workshop, the title immediately came to the author — “Writing the Italian in Your Memories.”

This is how the virtual writing workshops began at the Italian cultural center in December 2020.

Giura explained, “As someone who has always treasured my Italian-American background – a theme that emerges in both of my books – I wanted others to have the opportunity to reflect and write about Italian in their memories. , whether they are Italian, in a relationship with an Italian, or simply someone who appreciates italianitaˊ — the spirit, character or essence of Italian life.

In previous workshops, participants have had the opportunity to reflect and write about how a specific theme – food, music, language, immigration, travel, art, faith, etc – formed the background or foreground of their memories, Giura said.


The summer edition of Writing Your Memories will take place Wednesday evenings from 7-8:45 p.m. on June 22 and July 13. There will be a review workshop on August 3. to hold something or together.

Participants will have the chance to write down their memories of the season and/or the people and things that have supported them over the years.

Workshops are $27 for Casa Belvedere members / $30 for non-members. Sign up for one, two or all three. To register, see For more information, email [email protected] For more from the instructor, follow her on Instagram @mariagiurawrites and on her website

Giura has taught at several universities, including Binghamton University, where she earned her doctorate in English. She has won awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Independent Press, and the Center for Women Writers, and served as a judge for the Lauria/Frasca Poetry Award. Her writing has appeared in Prime Number, Presence, Vita Poetica, (Voices in) Italian Americana, Lips, Tiferet, and Paterson Literary Review.


“The memories and discoveries that participants discovered in their writings are grounded in ethnicity but also transcend it…So while the workshops still feature primarily Italian-American readings, we hope they will draw a more diverse audience,” Giura said.

In the first part of the workshop, participants read and discuss short dynamic extracts from published authors in order to inspire their own reflection on the theme. In the second part, they have the choice between five or six writing prompts and have at least twenty minutes to write.

The workshops also include a shorter five-minute “free writing” that helps writers warm up and tap into their intuitive side.

“During writing times, they can turn off their video, put their feet up, maybe even go to another place in their house to write. Then they come back and are invited to share a snippet of what they have writing or just commenting on what the writing experience was like,” Guira encouraged.

She said: “Entrants are encouraged to appeal to at least two senses in their writing, not just how they remember something, but also how it smelled, tasted, what it looked like or felt like on their skin.”


During the food-focused workshop, some of the guests included: watching a loved one cook a meal or make wine or work in the garden; the dish or meal that brought the most comfort; where they and their families gather to eat; a time in their life when cooking or food was a source of stress/distress or criticism; what time and where the aromas of certain foods bring them back.

At the end of each workshop, participants produce at least one original first draft.

“They are often surprised by the direction their writing is taking, where the joy is. To be surprised by his writing is a real gift. It means you’re open to whatever wants to be written,” Giura said.

Classes have drawn participants from Staten Island, the tri-state area, California, DC, Vermont, North Carolina, Florida and even Naples, Italy. Giura said that a few participants have published their work produced in the workshops.

“No experience is necessary, just a notebook, a pen and a sense of curiosity and fun,” Giura said.