"Around there are mountains everywhere. You see glaciers floating, melting, the ice cap, and a few polar bears. It's a place where you are not going to find any comforts. Money will not help you there. You have to be self-sufficient; there are no stores to buy food. It is extremely wild, beautiful, and unspoiled. You can navigate the waters in a kayak without running into anyone for days. It's a place of silence-full silence-that is absolutely amazing to listen to. It's a completely different feeling, it's being in the center of this natural setting that life is absolutely sublime."
Many of us will never get to see this spectacular place that Italian Professor Massimo Maggiari has just described. It is a description of Greenland, one of the many Arctic areas that Maggiari has explored, and then written about.
He writes about these places because they are unreachable, but the world deserves to know about them. Their people, the Yupik, Inuit, Inupiat, and others, are fairly unknown to our civilization.
Unfortunately, "It is a dramatically fading world," according to Maggiari. He says the young generation living in the Arctic want to move to a more comfortable life. The new laws banning the hunt for whales and seals will be a direct threat to these peoples survival.
"Their hunting isn't commercial, it's survival," he says. "It is sustenance- they need to be allowed a life."
In his most recent book, "Dalle Terre Del Nord: Alle ricerca dell'anima artica" ("From the Northern Lands: Searching for the Artic Soul"), Maggiari uses poetry to describe his recent travels to the arctic.
Maggiari has won many poetry awards, the most recent being the prestigious Lerici Pea Award for the Ligurians in the World in 2008. He received the award due to his work as a literary critic, poet, as well as his presence as a cultural promoter between Liguria (a region of northwestern Italy) and the U.S. In 2001, he was the winner of "La poesia incontra,"a poetry festival held in Sanremo, Italy. His first book, "Terre Lontane" ("Lands Away"), received the Italo Alighiero Chiusano Award in 1999.
Maggiari is dedicated in bringing poetry festivals to the College of Charleston. Most recently, he held a seminar on campus detailing the Duke of Abruzzi's explorations with a percussion performance. Unfortunately, this will probably be the last poetry festival for a while, because Maggiari hopes to write more.
"These things have grown at this point, and I need time to write," he says. "I am planning to republish and revisit ["Aurora Borealis"] and add more to it after more travels."
"Aurora Borealis" is Maggiari's second book, which was republished in 2004. Although it has already received ample recognition in Italy and abroad, the opportunity to travel more will add even more to its story.
At the College, Maggiari is the Italian teacher that all Italian students hope to have.
"Professor Maggiari is great. He's funny, smart, and has a passion for his homeland and a dedication to transferring this passion to his students," said senior Preston Barnes.
Maggiari studied Laurea in Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Genova in Italy, and then went on to receive his M.A. in Italian from the University of Washington. In 1992, he received his Ph.D. in Italian with a minor in Spanish Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to the College of Charleston in 1993, he was an assistant professor at Clemson University for two years.
Every summer, Maggiari takes a group of students to study abroad and travel through Northern Italy. This year, the College of Charleston soccer team will also be joining them for part of the trip. The Cougar team will play eight matches against some of the most competitive professional Italian soccer teams, and will stay in Italy for two weeks.
For more information on Professor Maggiari, please visit his website.