Cleopatra Comnenos is a writer, a poet, reader, reviewer, blogger (fabulous critique of the book over there), self-described nymph and the friendliest person I know online. She lives in Athens, and tweets at the best times of day for an Eastern Standard insomniac like me. I’m so excited that she let me ask her some strange questions:
Describe a “perfect” book:
I really like that you put perfect in quotes. I think that perfect is a condition we human beings created to express the outcome when balance, harmony and beauty are in equality. In that sense, I think a “perfect” book has a very good plot, is tight and its characters pull you in.
You are our book ambassador from Greece – Is there any particular book by a Greek author that we need to be reading right now? (preferably translated?)
It is a pity that most Greek Authors don’t get translated into English, except our well known poets, i.e. Kavafis, Seferis, Elytis, and of course the most known contemporary Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. No, I won’t say anything about Homer. He is another chapter all by himself.
There are good authors–contemporary and not–in this little part of the world too, but their work is not known outside Greece. Maybe things will change, we shall see.
Search for the following:
Petros Markaris‘ crime fiction novels.
Kiki Dimoula’s poetry collection.
Kavafis, Seferis, and Elytis are a must.
Let me think. I have to write about books you would know, so:
I read Hector Malot’s Nobody’s Girl and Nobody’s Boy and I was shocked from the mischief those children had in their young lives. Now that I mentioned it, I have to read them again…
As a teen, I was reading with zeal Enid Blyton‘ The Famous Five. I really enjoyed reading about those young detectives.
Lastly, I have to mention that an all time favorite is Antoine’s de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. After all, “all grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
You write in two languages, does one appeal more than another in certain situations?
Your mother tongue always appeals more, mostly because you have grown up learning it. So, the connections are there from the very beginning. As you all know, the greek language is really old and although we don’t talk ancient greek, common words have survived from back then, others have been updated. Our language is still evolving.
I started learning English since I was in primary school. In order to achieve the level I have now, I had to read for many years and still there are times I feel I really don’t know what some people are saying, mostly when they are using slang, or a joke that I am unfamiliar with.
There are days that I feel comfortable writing in English, because I want my thoughts to be heard outside Greece. To connect with people worldwide. Even when I am translating a piece of mine in English, I am really cautious, mostly to the fact that one greek word cannot be translated in one english world, but in a phrase. So, when I am writing a poem, I have to use an english word that has a similar meaning or change the phrase entirely to grasp the meaning I want to pass to the audience. Translating is not that easy!
At the same time, there are days that my need to write in my mother tongue is bigger. It is like breathing. You cannot stop your brain processing the thoughts into the letters that you already know, right?
Lastly, don’t forget that the most important thing is to express yourself. It doesn’t matter which is the language you use in order to do so, as long as you are truthful to yourself and to who you really are.
What do you do when not reading or writing?
Obviously, I have to work in order to live. The Crisis hit Greece and things are not good. We have a recession and many people have lost their jobs, so those who still have work, they support their families. It might be shocking but that is the truth.
Many things have changed the past three years for the worse, and although it is hard, I am trying not to lose my optimism. Please leave your biases behind. We are talking about people around here, and not numbers. Also, I know and admit that our politicians made huge mistakes for some of my fellow citizens, but still, living this situation versus listening to it via your TV, is another matter entirely.
So, when I am not working, reading or writing, I am listening to music. I am a music lover and those who follow me on twitter can confirm it. (nodnodnod) I also love taking pictures, but I am an amateur photographer. Lastly, I try to have quality time with my loved ones. We all need to catch up and escape from reality from time to time…