Interview: Poet Paul Kiritsis

Just had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Kiritsis, author of the poetry book, Fifty Confessions. I think you’ll enjoy the interview with this fascinating poet.

How did you first discover that you loved poetry?

My first ‘footsteps,’ if you like, in the realm of poetry occurred in early primary school as a second-grader. I remember reading a junior-level second-grade text taken from Homer’s Iliad (written in ancient Greek I might add!) and being completely enthralled by the material. That initial contact with epic and dramatic poetry grew into something a lot more profound as the years unraveled and was to become a full-fledged passion for me.

Which poets were you first drawn to?

Because of my Hellenic heritage, I was initially drawn to poets like the classical Homer and contemporary Greek greats like Odysseas Elytis and Konstantinos Kavafis (some of whose material I studied at university level). During my latter years my tastes shifted and I became interested in the work of William Wordsworth, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, and of course, the formidable Lord Byron.

Do you remember writing your first poem? How old were you? What was it about?

Yes, I do! I was about thirteen and I had just had an argument with my dad. My way of venting was to sit in front of my wooden desk and spew out rhyming verses (some of which appear so frivolous now) about how misunderstood I was.

How often do you find yourself writing poetry? Are there moments or moods that draw you to poetry more than others?

I only write when the inspiration comes. During some periods of my life, I’ve written almost every night. There have also been times where I haven’t written for months. This long drawn silence in my writing pen can more or less be attributed to monotonous routine and the prolonged dormancy of hullabaloo. I find that being mellow, pensive and melancholy will suck me into the writing vortex very quickly.

Are there poets or writers who have influenced you?

Certainly. Of note would be Dean Koontz, Margaret Atwood, Richard Laymon, David Malouf and Colin Wilson. I try to read as widely and across as many genres as possible.

What is your process for writing poetry? (Laptop, notebook, morning hours, last thing at night…) Is this process different than for other types of writing you may do?

I usually write late at night. First, I unwind with some herbal tea or coffee. I may or may not choose to burn some incense to cleanse the room of any bad vibes. Then I light my two candles, pull out my pen and notebook from under the drawer and away I go. The poems sometimes write themselves and guess what…sometimes they don’t. I always write at night, irrespective of whether its poetry or not.

Tell us about your latest book, Fifty Confessions. What was the inspiration for it and what do you hope people come away with upon reading the work?

The book Fifty Confessions is my most personal work to date. I was really troubled and unwell when I wrote it. I was unwell both physically and mentally. I wasn’t sure if going ahead and publishing for the entire world to see would be beneficial and therapeutic or if the compendium of Pandora’s secrets would backfire and come back to haunt me a few years from now. I suppose only Father Time can and will answer that. The book is about my fight with a mystery illness that is still ailing me and with specific related events which evolved around that. The poetry is very raw, visceral and at times, very graphic. There are religious overtones moving through the work with the whole ‘confession’ motif and the confessions are grouped chronologically in accordance with the psychosocial model of stress response. Through this work, I want the reading audience to identify with ill people who go on suffering undiagnosed ailments for years whilst pharmaceutical companies make millions off antidepressants and other medications used to ‘fix’ them up temporarily without getting to the root of the problem.

How would you respond to people who claim they don’t like poetry?

In my experience, most people who claim they don’t like poetry have never given it a shot and have preconceived notions of it as both boring and un-engaging. Try sampling it before you dismiss it. (And I don’t mean just one poet) You might not like the poetry of writer X but you might like the style of writer Y.

Where can we find out more about you?

You’ll find out quite a bit on me if you visit my website! It’s www.paulkiritsis.com. There’s plenty on there to keep one occupied for a while: audio files of me reciting some of my material; interviews; press releases; biography; life influences and information on upcoming releases.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Epic and dramatic poetry were the first forms of written literature and evolved from ancient Greece. Let’s try to keep that royal tradition going…

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