Christodoulos Makris

In the penultimate interview of this series, we talk to poet Christodoulos Makris.

How long have you been writing?
With various intentions, from a very young age. A sustained engagement with the act of writing as an artistic discipline began in early 1997. Since then it’s been constantly shifting in terms of intensity and motivation, as well as form and approach.

What was your first publication?
A report on a school sports event for a national newspaper when I was about 10… In poetry, it was either a short piece in west47, Galway Arts Centre’s now defunct (& seemingly vanished without trace) online literary magazine, or two poems in my own translation into Greek for the Nicosia-based journal Άνευ. Both around the same time in 2004. A first collection, the chapbook Round the Clock, came out in 2009.

What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last 10 years or so?
Without a doubt the grassroots movement in spoken word / performance poetry. In the general absence of radical poetics, this is where a welcome challenge to some longstanding hierarchies, and to a monolithic understanding of what poetry can do and be, is coming from.

What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years?
I’m wondering whether the shortcomings we perceive don’t in fact form a necessary part of the conditions that each of us responds to or even writes against. For me these include: the closed, inward-looking environments (territorial, linguistic, formal) pervading the vast majority of the poetry written/published here – also contributing to a stale critical culture; the scarcity of outlets (whether in terms of regular events or publications) encouraging the development of material that’s of its time, with the hybrids and fusions in form, content and medium that this implies; the almost nonexistent exploration of conceptual writing strategies and ideas of process; and so on.

We often hear in Ireland of the pull from either Boston or Berlin: broadly speaking, are Irish writers European writers in the English language or wholly steeped in the Anglosphere?
I find the notion of a unified writing community that works within some imagined collective mode hard to accept. A rather alarming notion, in fact.

Finally, if you had to recommend one regular poetry event in Ireland to someone, what would it be?
Wurm im Apfel: after a year’s absence the worm is returning to reoccupy Dublin’s poetry apple. Judging by the poets it introduced to audiences here in the past (derek beaulieu, Jaap Blonk etc) we’re in for a renewed treat!

Christodoulos Makris was born in Nicosia and has lived in Manchester, London and since 2001 in Dublin. His collections include Spitting Out the Mother Tongue (Wurm Press, 2011) and the artist’s book Muses Walk (2012). He also made the short film Safe as Houses (2013). Tw: @c_makris