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 five questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Larnaca looks like, meet Andreas Timotheou!
Who are you as a poet/writer/author/artist?
As a poet and a writer, I think I’m another man amongst millions who has been blessed with the gift of Art in order not only to convey, through his work, the fragility of this world but moreover, to show our evolution towards the light which is none other than a life filled with love.
What kind of literary tradition, authors or concepts have you found inspirational for your work?
Regarding poetry, I prefer writing in free verse, although rhymed verse evokes similar emotions for me. I still think I prefer the former a lot more than the latter though because of the freedom it provides me and its rhythmicity which comes effortlessly in my writing. Concerning the short stories, I write mostly in the first person singular and the texts are usually very brief. I rarely use dialogues and I usually change the present with the future tense. My characters often depict their thoughts in their speech flow. My main inspiration is love in all its conformities and light but I also find a lot of inspiration in death. On one hand, love gives us the impression of immortality, and on the other the death warns us that we have to live a life filled with light, for as long as it lasts. Love and life are both wonderful precisely because both of them include death, they both have an ending. I also write with reference to my childhood years which I think are the most essential years of our lives since they determine our adulthood. In childhood I believe that we are connected as much as we will ever be with the source of love, which is why imagination is a way of life for me. Then, life pushes us into adulthood and the streamlining of all things, forcing us to lose this very beautiful piece of purity which had once lived inside our souls.
Please name several contemporary authors who you think are most significant – in any possible sense – and why?
I will mention three great Greek poets; each one is special to me for a different reason. Odysseas Elytis, because he praised beauty like only a few do, Constantinos Cavafis, for his boldness and his morals and Nikiforos Vrettakos, because of the purity his lyrics provide me. From the female poets, I think that Katerina Angelaki-Rooke is superiour. The poetry of Pablo Neruda was so romantic and sensitive. From the Cypriot poets, the poetry of Costas Montis immediately comes to mind. In a different vein, I find, especially in prose, I am captivated by the dark side of Franz Kafka, who was one of the biggest revelations in my reading journey. From the Greek writers, I believe that Papadiamantis was a charismatic figure for me. Dimitrios Hatzis was also one of the greatest novelist. What is more, I loved Costas Tachtsis’ work ‘Third Wreath’ for the deep humanism he demonstrated. Lastly, Zyranna Zateli is a writer I adore due to the fineness of her work and the deep emotions that pervade the mystery of her writing.
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?
As the reader criticizes the author for the work they produce and not for his personal ideas and beliefs, I think that this kind of relationship is very healthy and interactive. I think it is unfair to criticize someone’s work or to undervalue it just purely because you do not agree with the authors’ views. With regards to the new communication tools, I think they can operate positively, as they can help in making an author’s work more widely known, enabling it to reach the reader more easily, even if it is just a small part of his writing.
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?
Poetry itself is a political act and poets are political beings revolted by their governance. Poets, like all artists, belong to the world exactly because they deny the ugliness imposed on them by political systems that influence our lives. Art, to me, is just beauty; I cannot find something else which gives comfort to people. It goes without saying that if politicians read more poetry, things would be much better for everyone. When societies stop laying off poets, then politicians will have done an extremely good job.