What promises to be a fascinating discussion on the different languages staking a claim for a place in the literature of Cyprus will take place on Saturday, 26 November, at Carob Mills venue, as part of the inaugural edition of Limassol Book Fair. The panel will be moderated by poet Stephanos Stephanides, former Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Cyprus.
Stephanides has invited four writers and translators, Cypriot either by birth or naturalization, to discuss how their affective immersion in felt life has shaped their experience of this island. Alev Adil, Lisa Suhair Majaj, Despina Pirketti and Dalia Staponkutė have all engaged with questions like how a diasporic, migrant and hybrid subject contributes to our understanding of the literary. In their combined practice as writers and translators between Greek, English, Turkish, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Lithuanian and Russian, the panelists have negotiated their way through the movement of real and symbolic powers, often establishing a flow between diverse groups neither coerced nor constrained by the nation state.
“As the role of the nation state in the world system changes,” Stephanides says, “new hegemonies and orthodoxies arise as we move to a new world order that brings with it new forces of singularity, homogenization, technological rationality in global experience, in supranational states. What new challenges does this bring for the practice of writing and of translation?”
Alev Adil is a writer, performance artist and academic. Her poetry has been included in numerous anthologies of Cypriot poetry in English, Greek and Turkish. Adil reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, is an associate editor of the literary journal Critical Muslim, and contributor and co-editor of Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices From a Divided City (2019).
Lisa Suhair Majaj is a Palestinian-American who has lived in Cyprus since 2001. She is the author of Geographies of Light (Del Sol Press Poetry Prize winner), of poems and essays in many journals and anthologies, and of two children’s books. She is also a scholar of Arab-American literature, and is co-editor of three volumes of critical essays about international women writers.
Despina Pirketti is as a literary translator between Greek, English and French, and the author of a novel and two staged plays. She is currently working on the Greek translation of “Letters from Cyprus,” a cluster of poems written by English poet Martin Bell during his stay on the island in the late 1960s.
Dalia Staponkutė is an award-winning Lithuanian writer, translator and scholar. She has translated N. Kazantzakis, I. Kampanellis, C. P. Cavafy, P. Ioannides. Currently she is working on a novel of parallel histories called Viva Regina, embracing the medieval history of Cyprus and Lithuania.
Stephanos Stephanides is a poet, essayist and memoirist, translator, ethnographer, and documentary filmmaker. He was awarded first prize for poetry from the American Anthropological Association, 1988, and first prize for video poetry for his film Poets in No Man’s Land (Nicosia International Film Festival, 2012). He has served as judge for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2000, 2010, 2022).
“The Languages of Literature in Cyprus: Migration and Translation” panel will unfold on the Main Stage of the Limassol Book Fair, on 26 November, at 2:30 pm. Presentations will be made in English. Discussion with the audience will take place in both Greek and English.
The Limassol Book Fair consists of a diverse group of individuals aspiring to create a long-lasting impact on the cultural identity of the island and the region. Its founders are Haris Ioannides, Anna Ioannidou and Kris Konnaris.