An Interview with Ewa Gorniak Morgan
Ewa Gorniak Morgan moved the Venice in her twenties to take up a post at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Since then she has published several books as well as working as a broadcaster and translator. Her latest book, Profession Venice, was launched at the Gritti Palace in January. An enchanting compendium of poetry, metaphysical reflection and jokes about everything Venetians love to hate, it is a tribute to Ewa’s fascination with her city and a must for anyone with a passion for La Serenissima. We’re thrilled to interview Ewa this week on the inspiration for the book and her favourite Venetian secret…
Ewa at her post-publication party, wearing Fortuny, naturally
1 You have a magic carpet and one hour in Venice- what would you do?
Exactly that: fly over the city, its islands, and the lagoon without landing. The festival of both natural and artificial forms bathed in water and light will be thrilling and the desire to descend and join the party even greater. Flying into Venice airport from most destinations try to sit to the right and the moment you hear the bump of the aircraft’s wheels being ejected look out. Follow the narrow string of the car and train bridge below to rest your eyes on the unmistakable silhouette with a winding canal in the middle and dozens of church towers around. When you come back, think of just one or two churches or the area where you last stayed and try to find it. It’s a great game, you have no more than two minutes.
2 You have an exquisite Murano flask in which to bottle a Venetian memory. What would it be?
That feeling of crossing the bridge, Ponte della Libertà from the mainland. By air, thus metaphorically, or by train as it enters the lagoon. The puppy-dog-heart feeling that one could smell like perfume. To smell a feeling or a memory? Yes, Venice does that to you and many other tricks. It’s like falling in love again and again, and for the first time. That impulse from the Murano flask will remind you that you can.
3 Explain the title of your book- why Profession Venice?
It’s been more than 20 years since prompted by a question: “What do you do?” I answer: “I live in Venice.” It happened naturally when I noticed how people react. It became like a password - a sure move; the conversation would immediately drift toward Venice and I didn’t have to talk about myself. Venice became my daily job and a profession, more or less respectable, I hope. And isn’t Venice the oldest profession in the world? I call it: Venice My Love. It is my daily motto and a smiley I’d like to share.
4 Who is the book for- what kind of reader will enjoy it?
The book is dedicated to those who already found Venice, geographically speaking and those who are still looking for the Venice of their heart. Aren’t we all? It’s a soul’s journey into the labyrinth of beauty, where one has to get lost, a personal road map spread on a specific stage and projecting in and out. The audience can identify streets, views, facts and places or follow their own intimate itinerary; Venice is just a stage and the book can be read from the beginning, the middle or the end, as you like it. It fits perfectly in one’s pocket. You can take it for a trip or for a walk and forget the bookmark.
5 A favourite Venetian secret…
Venice. (Again!) Everyone has their own. There are as many Venices as the viewers with their eyes open or closed. Secrets are priceless because you can’t sell them. Once you do they stop being a secret. Let me give up a few. The silence in winter at dusk when the water is low and flat. The winter light, Joseph Brodsky wrote about it too, but I am not sure that he noticed the halo on the statute of Jesus Christ on top of the church of San Vidal in mid-January when soon after 4 pm the laser beam of the setting sun hits it so precisely that one may convert in an instant. Who knows how many do... Venice is a place of epiphanies par excellence, starting with January 6th and the procession of the Magi around Virgin Mary on the Clock Tower in San Marco at noon. Twelve strikes of the two bronze bells and it will stay with you forever.