Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Cyprus looks like, meet Constantinos Papageorgiou!
Who are you as a poet/writer/author/artist?
I use reading and writing as a means of conceptualizing the world. On one hand, reading and writing are private matters associated with my self-fulfilment and happiness. They constitute an important pillar of my life and wellbeing. On the other hand, I am interested in interacting with other authors or readers to discuss literature and this is a pleasurable and meaningful process for me. Also, after publishing my poetry book, I started being interested in seeing how my work may have impacted on other people.
What kind of literary tradition, authors or concepts have you found inspirational for your work?
Confessional poetry has inspired me because of its explicit honesty and also because it contains both the personal sphere and the social one as its background.
Please name several contemporary authors who you think are most significant – in any possible sense – and why?
I consider Charles Bukowski upfront, Haruki Murakami magical, Amos Oz sharp, Allen Ginsberg inspiring, Zbigniew Herbert humanist, Bertolt Brecht pioneer, Dorris Lessing spiritual, Alain de Botton insightful, Augusto Boal revolutionary, Eduardo Galeano dareful and the list goes on and on.
What do you think about the current state of the relationship between the author and the reader? Is there a mentionable shift in that relationship through new media as in terms of being alienated on the one hand or being enlivend on the other hand?
Social media and the internet in general have influenced the ritual of reading because authors (and anybody else) can now post their texts instantly online. In this way, the author is more accessible and the reader is able to interact with the text or the author somehow. Reading poems or prose that are posted on websites or social media is free and people that wouldn’t buy or borrow books come in contact with literature through this channel. It is also easier for authors to get feedback on their work. However, in my opinion, this could not substitute the ritual of the personal reading of a book (either paper or e-book) and I personally do not enjoy reading literature online. I tend to prefer reading literature through the traditional way of holding a paper book!
There have always been interactions and disputes between the discourses of poetry and politics. Do you see possibilities of emancipatory strategies concerning contemporary interactions between poetic and political discourses and agendas? How can/should/do these literary strategies look like?
I believe that poetry alone could not bring about social change. Politics does not depend on poetry. Writing poetry gives poets the feeling of resisting or objecting, so it is relieving and it can also awaken or inspire the readers to make a change. Nevertheless, I will dare to assert that the world needs activists more than poets. Uploading a poem for refugees on Facebook, for example, is a political action on one hand but it is also a passive one in some sense and it entails the risk of the poet feeling that he/she has paid his/her dues! We need doers, not just writers! If we want poetic and political discourses to intersect, we need to use dynamic, active, popular and provocative strategies by bringing Poetics into daily life. Using a flash-mob based on texts could be such a way.