Dear Thomas, nice to talk to you again! The previous year was quite turbulent. Except visiting Mljet and Larissa, what have you been up to in 2020?
Mostly writing different stuff and playing with my son. They are both interesting ways of expanding your universe inside the domestic routine of the quarantine.
What are your plans and hopes, literature-wise, for 2021? What are you looking forward to?
I am not sure what I can hope for, outside my own writing efforts. I mean I just published a book of articles and essays and I am going to publish the book I was working on on Mljet and in Larissa. But I am not sure what you can hope for with all the bookstores closed and no presentations taking place. I also miss traveling for my books and poems. That’s the worst.
We met you as a poet, but you're also a playwright. What is your favorite play you wrote about?
I think the one I am working on now. It’s not actually a ''play'' in a traditional manner, more like o montage of pieces, monologues and oral vignettes. I like to see it more like a rock record. Maybe a Grange record put on stage. I may call it ''bleach''.
Is there a difference between your creative process as a poet, and as a playwright?
I think that writing a play is more technical, you have more specific rules to follow even when you are constructing something abstract. On the other hand, in poetry, you have to invent the rules yourself from the beginning. And I think that difference is the thing that thrills me working in both mediums.
There is a lot of intelligent humor in your work. What role does humor have in your creative process and in your life?
Well, that’s a real compliment. I think that humor is a language and a code parallel to that of poetry. I especially like it when the two parallels meet (despite geometry). I used to do stand-up comedy when I was younger. I was not the best but I think the whole thing of constructing a joke really influenced me in my poetry writing. In my life, I think humor is the only thing that can keep you going. Especially, because we live in such unfunny times. Laughter can prove to be more vital than a vaccine sometimes.
The last time I saw you, we were at the Athens World Poetry Festival. Just like Ulysses' Shelter, this is, too, one of the opportunities for Greek poets to present their work internationally, and to enjoy the work of international colleagues. What is, in your opinion, the best aspect of projects of international cooperation, such as Ulysses' Shelter? What do they bring to the table to the Greek cultural scene, and to you as an author?
I think the most important thing is the exchange and the communication. The sense of the global scale of poetry. Greek poetry, -mainly because of the language- is closed inside its borders. For the new generation of poets, I think that projects like these give them an opportunity to understand better the poetry of our times in general, us well us their own poetry.
Being the part of the Ulysses' Shelter, I suppose you read the works by poets from Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia. Did you get any impressions or thoughts about Balkan poetry in general? Of course, we can't speak generally and universally about this culturally diverse region, but my question is – did any weird similarities, or striking differences, catch your eye?
I am very cautious about generalizing when I am not fully sure and my experience was cut short because of the coronavirus. So from the small number of poems I've read, I think that the most interesting similarity was that you can feel a vibrant piece of history underneath the poems. And I don’t mean old history. I mean the history of the last decades. The individual experience as a collective fact. As a trauma, as a heritage, and as a burden.
We are living in some weird times, Thomas. Is there anything good about this whole deadly pandemic situation, that affected you in any positive (pun intended) way? Is there anything that is happening now, that we will possibly remember with nostalgia?
No, not at all. It’s like being in high school again. Waiting for the whole thing to finish. Unable to go to theater or concerts, unable to see your friends. Maybe in the beginning it seemed like a good time for rethinking, examining things all over again. But we are through that. Now we stand like protagonists in an absurdist play. And the writer is of that play is a really untalented one.