Being Present as a Writer

Exploring what it means to be present - present first and foremost as yourself and to yourself - and what it means to be a writer - writer of what and for what. Wondering what it means to be a present writer - present as a writer, or presenting one's writing. As most of the times, the answers are but more questions, unfolding in creative forms.

On 4th October 2023 I had the honour and the immense pleasure to be opening the “Present Writer” series, organised and run by KENO Publications at Prozak Kafeneio, in Nicosia. The invitation came at the most appropriate time, a time when I was already in deep search as to what it means to be present – present first and foremost as yourself and to yourself – and what it means to be a writer – writer of what and for what, we all write don’t we? what defines some of those who write as writers after all? All the questions that I had – and the subsequent non-answers that came as a response – were partly the result of recent events in my life, when for multiple months I allowed external factors to limit, reduce, confine, and undermine the core elements that keep me present in the world – present as a self, and as a writer – as somebody with a deep creative impulse who needs to exist in the world and express herself, without being deprived of time to create, emotional stability and a safe space to express, and a secure ground to cultivate a connection with an audience. So, KENO Publications, thank you for meeting my self-exploration with an invitation that allowed me to search even deeper. Thank you for giving me a platform to voice this self-exploration. (Disclaimer: the representatives of KENO publications are only learning about this coincidence through these lines so, yes… I guess I am in a confessional mood today…).

The concept of the “Present Writer” series involves a 45-minute reading/performance time when the guest artist introduces herself to the audience, followed by a 45-minute discussion (in the form of Q&A) with audience members about the piece(s) presented, as well as the artist herself. Naturally, the first thing I started thinking about as to how to fill this 45-minute “presentation” time, was: what parts of my work, presented within 45 minutes, could declare my presence as a writer? As a creative person? As a voice? And, even more so, what does my present self want to express? What do I have to say that might even worth being said (by me) or heard (by anyone at all)? And, being still in the recovery process from a psychologically and emotionally challenging experience, do I even exist at all, as to be able to be adequately present?

I opened drawers, searched in folders, saw past performance videos, mumbled a lot of words, opened boxes, walked the equivalent of many miles in my flat, and then it dawned on me. My presence as a writer can only be defined in the combination of all the languages I know: and I don’t mean just Greek, Greek-Cypriot and English; I mean music, rhythm, sound layering; I mean stringing together past poems in various languages, long-year experimentations with looping, soundscaping and sound-layering, and song; and I mean letting my body follow it all.

Here is the full video of what took place when I was “Present” as a “Writer” on October 4th, 2023.

YouTube video by Nondual media
Setting the scene with an excerpt of my poem “Negation of the negation”
“Ελευθερία / Freedom” – Excerpt from my poem Αύγουστος [August]
Excerpt from “Hence the memory was made” – composition for words and sound layers
From my song “Happy”
The sound of August winters…
* featured photo by Nana Samara, snippet photos and videos by Sophia Kouvarou and Nana Samara (thank you both)