Katie Aliferis, whose poem ‘Ode to the Familial Village’ was published in issue 5 of Lucent Dreaming, is a Greek-American poet and lyricist from San Francisco, California. She has been a featured performer at Greek American Writers Night, the SFSU Center for Modern Greek Studies, VelRo’s Global Voices: A Celebration of Translation and International Creative Writing, and other events. Her work has been published in various anthologies, journals, and websites.
So, what inspired your piece ‘Ode to the Familial Village’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
“Ode to the Familial Village” was inspired by time spent in Areópolis, Greece; one of my ancestral villages. Many Greeks of the diaspora return to their ancestral villages as young (and as often) as possible… I did not visit/return until my early thirties. Having spent most of my life imagining what it was like, to finally be there was surreal; the breakdown of the fantasy // the revelation of the reality. A lot of it was heartbreaking and painful. A lot of it was educational. But it was also very beautiful. Being there really did break me down… and build something new; something more honest, more authentic, and more about our connections to each other.
Lucent Dreaming popped into my literary world via social media (I think it was Twitter). And when I saw the call for work about origins, I felt drawn to send in the ode. This shared fantasy/reality dynamic regarding our place(s)-of-origin is something many friends and writers have expressed to/with me, so I hoped the poem would find its home with LD and be something to which readers could relate.
What does writing and art mean to you?
Writing and art is catharsis. It’s processing emotion in a safe way. It’s activism; speaking our truths and creating space for others to do the same. It’s necessary; an absolutely necessary part of life.
What are you most excited about right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
Right now I am most excited about a song called “Confessions” by Sudan Archives. Look them up. Give it a listen.
Recently, I fell in love and then experienced the worst heartbreak of my life. Those emotions have been fueling a whole chapbook of poems, which I’m currently editing. (Generally, I find my own [romantic] love poems unworthy of sharing, but this set comes from the deepest emotions I’ve experienced… so they will [likely] be shared.)
Tell us about some of your favourite books or art you’ve experienced – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
Oh, I love this question. Favorites include:
- The Book Of Delights by Ross Gay. Those essays are the perfect balance of catharsis, truth-speaking, and awareness-raising. I like to begin each morning by reading one of the essays as a type of benediction for the day.
- Alley Cat Books (an independently-owned bookstore in San Francisco, California) always has amazing art exhibits. Recent favorites include the art of Juana Alicia, The Women Of The Resistance, and Michael Roman. (More information on all of these artists can be found online.) These exhibits all immortalize culture and truths. All sacred. All critical.
- An all-time favorite is the collected poetry of C.P. Cavafy. Cavafy always wrote his truths (including queer-eroticism). There are various English translations available for those who don’t read/speak Greek. Daniel Mendelsohn’s are some of my favorites.
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
Be a consumer! Read more than you write. Go to open mics and do not share your work… just listen and learn. Be inspired. Build community. Support other writers/creators. And when you do create, tell your own story. Tell your truths. Your truths will be the most moving for a reader/consumer. And do so in a way that is authentic. If you want to curse, curse. If want to not share your work for years, then don’t. The creation of art should not be a capitalistic endeavor. (I mean, if you are able to make money off it in the end, good for you!) But… create whatever you create to heal (yourself and your ancestors) and keep yourself alive.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
You can usually find me at multilingual open mics in the San Francisco Bay Area (especially Voz sin Tinta and Speaking Axolotl). I’ve been taking a break from submissions (Lucent Dreaming is my most recent print publication) but we’ll see where this new collection goes. You can also find me online at @Katie_Aliferis (Twitter and Instagram) and KatieAliferis.com. My dream is to holiday in Wales one day (I even have the guide books!) and visit the Lucent Dreaming team in person! And much gratitude goes to the LD team for giving the ode a forever home and inviting me to share more in this space.