Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Tinos International Literary Festival and Me.

Today is the third and final day of the 4th Tinos International Literary Festival held on Mykonos’ neighboring Aegean Greek island of Tinos. 

The harbor of Tinos is nine miles northwest and virtually equidistant from the old and new ports of Mykonos. How long that trip takes depends upon whether you travel by freighter, ferry, or fast boat.  Since I brought my car, I went by ferry, and shall return the same way on Sunday.

Almost every regularly scheduled commercial passenger vessel in or out of Athens’ port cities of Piraeus and Rafina that stop on Mykonos also stop on Tinos. That’s not just because Tinos lacks an airport, but because it serves as home to the Lourdes of Greece—The Church of Panagia Evangelistria—and the extraordinarily influential earthly power behind it, The Panhellenic Holy Foundation of our Lady of the Annunciation of Tinos, better known simply as The Evangelistria Foundation.  Not surprisingly, the Evangelistria Foundation is one of the sponsors of the Festival, along with the Municipality of Tinos and The Tinos Cultural Foundation.

The Festival takes place in three unique locations on the island, and is described by its organizers as aiming “to present the various cultural sides of Tinos while making the island a reference point and meeting place of international contemporary literature. The program includes public speeches, readings, discussions, roundtable meetings between the public and the writers, in combination with local music and dances. Authors and poets will read their work in their native language, while the texts will be available in Greek and English translations."

My involvement in all this stems from an invitation I received from Dinos Siotis, Artistic Director of the Tinos Cultural Foundation.  He was familiar with the Andreas Kaldis novel I’d placed on Tinos (#4 Target: Tinos) but did not realize I lived on Mykonos. Imagine his great joy upon realizing the travel costs I’d just saved him.

As it turns out, I’m the only USA attendee and only mystery writer among a handful of non-poets. In fact, I’m the only native English-speaking participant, the rest hailing from Greece, Albania, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Kurdistan, Mexico, and Slovenia.  In deciding what to read (and have translated into Greek) I originally went with a lengthy funeral lamination poem I’d composed for my new Kaldis novel coming out in October.  Don’t worry; I won’t saddle you with any of that here. I’ve already covered that ground elsewhere.

US-China relations poetically at work

But on reflection I decided to avoid competing with such extraordinarily talented, well-recognized international poets, and played to the local audience by allowing them to hear how a non-Greek mystery writer described their island’s most hallowed institutions and landscapes.  I delivered that address at the opening ceremonies Thursday night, and I’m still breathing and out of custody.

Blending in with the audience.

Today I participate with my new-found colleagues is a round table discussion open to public participation, titled, “The Writer in an Era of Crisis.” We’ll see how I fare in that. 

Below are some photos of the events and venues, capturing at times some of the participants, namely:

Yiorgos Blanas / Greece
Xenophon Brountzakis / Greece
Stratis Haviaras / Greece
Christos Ikonomou / Greece
Laurie Keza / Greece
Elsa Korneti / Greece,
Kleopatra Lyberi / Greece
Yiorgos Rouvalis / Greece
Klety Sotiriadou / Greece
Minas Vintiadis / Greece,
Ardita Jatru / Albania
Maja Klaric / Croatia
Hiwa Panahi / Iranian Kurdistan
Evridiki Periocleous-Papadopoulou / Cyprus
Enrique Servin Herrera / Mexico
Jeffrey Siger / USA
Nicolaj Stockholm / Denmark
Natassa Svikart Zumer / Slovenia
Mindy Zhang / China.

Dinos Siotis, artistic director of Festival and his wife, Barbara
Our chaperone, Xenophon

Checking in...
Checking out...
The pool area

Poetic inspiration in a bottle
Our limo
Taking our show on the road
Croatia and China
First night line up, China, GR, US, GR, Mexico, GR

Yes, she's reading poem composed on her fan!
Preparing for after party
It’s been a remarkable experience.  And with any luck I’ve convinced some of my newfound colleagues to do guest spots on MIE, though considering their preferred literary form, I think it more appropriate to label their contributions as “PIE.”



  1. OMG, how you make me want to be there!!! What a fantastic experiences and as we know first-hand (thanks to that book of yours and your tips) what a fantastic place. Would love to have been in the audience!

    1. And would loved to have had you! Thanks, J&J, though from the photos I've seen of you guys on Kardamyli, not too shabby a place or time yourselves!

  2. Apparently someone let you into the kitchen again! (Band-aid on finger.) And who's that idiot that photo-bombed your picture of the audience??? Thank God that you were chaperoned. I shudder to think what might have happened to the good island of Tinos had you been let loose on your own reconizance.

    And, no, I'm not jealous in the slightest. Not at all. Nope, not me. Un-uh. No way, Jose. Nix. Nada. Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!

    1. A man who knows how to say "no" in so many languages must be very tired of all those rejections. But don't worry, my friend, there's always a place for you here...or in the kitchen. Na Zdorovie.

  3. Jeff, I am jealous. But only because ay dinner you got to sit next to the nicest lady at the festival!

    1. Barbara thanks you. But that's tricky as I sat next to two Barbaras this evening...making it a true festival festival.

  4. Another Barbara chiming in. I tend to be a patriot although I don't admit that to everyone I know. But I am glad you represented the United States. And mystery writers.

  5. Thanks, Barbara, but at the final event the host introduced me as from "Mykonos." Not sure if that was to claim me as one of Greece's own or spare the USA further bad press.:)