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Conversations with Poets: Imagining Alexandria

Sunday 23 March 2014

1 Hour


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The writer of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernières talks to Professor Jem Poster about his debut collection of poetry. Poetry was de Bernières’ first literary love, and his collection returns us to the Mediterranean landscape of his fiction. He was introduced to Greek poetry while in Corfu in 1983 and has since always travelled with a book of Cavafy’s poetry in his pocket. Cavafy (1863-1933) was a Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. De Bernières’ poems about the distant past, the erotic and the philosophical owe much to the influence of Cavafy.

De Bernières won the Commonwelath Writers’ Prize for the bestselling Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which was also turned into a successful Hollywood movie. His most recent books are Birds Without Wings, A Partisan’s Daughter and a collection of stories, Notwithstanding. Poster is a poet and novelist, academic director of the Oxford Literary Festival, and former professor and chair of creative writing at Aberystwyth University.