Meet the Contributors: Marianne Rogoff

Marianne Rogoff has had stories published in The Best Travel Writing 2010, The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008, and The Best Travel Writing 2006, among others. She teaches Writing & Literature at California College of the Arts and leads weeklong writers studios in Mexico every January and August.

What’s one place that has moved you or changed you in a significant way?

When I was still living in New Jersey I drove cross-country during my first summer in college, stopped in California, and told myself all the way home that I would find a way to live here someday. Great efforts ensued and the way it changed me was to learn that I could set seemingly impossible goals and make them happen.

Is there something you always do (or search out, buy, learn, pack, drink), whenever you’re on a trip?

I drink ginger ale on airplanes and Coca-Cola with lime once I’ve landed, as this settles the tummy and kills all bad things.

Through travel, have you overcome any fears or obstacles?

Yes, I walk alone, I talk to strangers, I make plans then feel free to change them.

When did you first know you were a traveler?

There is a photograph of me at age two, in a fancy dress and bonnet, carrying a big suitcase, and looking determined to go I know not where-.

Who is the most inspiring or interesting person you’ve met on the road?

Dr. Maria do Ceu Machado was my host on my book tour when my memoir Silvie’s Life was translated into Portuguese. Dr. Machado is a neonatologist, now High Minister of Health in Portugal, whose job is to save babies’ lives. I also met Dr. Terese Botelho, a psychologist who works with the families of newborns in crisis, and Dr. Alexandra Dias, my translator and a highly regarded pediatrician. They took time off to take me on scenic drives, invited me into their homes, and made me feel like my book mattered to people working in neonatal intensive care, the scariest place in the world.

How do you balance your home and travel life/how do you make it work to travel?

Most of my travels have been work-related: travel grants from California College of the Arts (where I teach Writing & Literature) to attend San Miguel Poetry Week or the AWP conference in Chicago; the book tour in Portugal; and I bring groups of writers on weeklong Writers Studio trips, which I coordinate and teach. I always try to add a few days before or after these working trips to explore on my own, and being in a new place always inspires my writing. Happily, I love my work and consider it a “bon voyage” whenever I am free to get at it.


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I tell you: one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you still have chaos in you.” –Nietzsche