An interview by Daniel Scott Parker, Columbia College Chicago
February 20, 2014
As a poet and a bartender, I have a complex relationship with secrets. One that I don’t keep, however, is how much I love the University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy. My experience with this program has been extremely formative for me as a person, poet, and artist.
Having first experienced the program in 2003 as an undergraduate, and subsequently visiting the town of Cortona the following three summers, I was given the opportunity to serve as the Visiting Artist for the entire year of 2010. It was during this year that I began writing poetry and started to consider MFA programs. Working with and among artists of various media, I realized that, for me, poetry and art were inextricable. Operating within other art forums opened up new ways of thinking about art, in general, and poetry, in particular.
This past week at CAA, I was able to catch up with a dear friend, Chris Robinson, who is now the Director of the Cortona Studies Abroad Program, and Chris brought me up to speed with what the program’s doing now and why his delayed and rerouted odyssey to CAA is worth it.
Daniel: Chris, how did you first become involved with the program?
Chris Robinson: As a graduate student at the University of Georgia, I was fortunate enough to participate on the Cortona program during the summer of 2000. I was asked to go back to Cortona during the summer of 2001, to assist the then program Director, RG Brown. Shortly after that experience, RG asked me to work for the program, so in January of 2002, I moved to Italy and began working for the program. From 2002 to 2010, I worked for the program in roles that included Studio Coordinator, Professor of Records and eventually Associate Director. I transitioned into the Director position in January of 2011.