The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are speaking with Amanda MICHALOPOULOU Αμάντα Μιχαλοπούλου, a fiction writer from Greece.
1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?
I am rewriting Kafka's "Metamorphosis" from a new angle. Or at least that was the plan. I used the German text, the greek and the English translation but then all of a sudden I started writing poems. I haven't done this for years. It feels like all the unwritten poems of my life come out now. I presume this is a combination of real life problems and stylistic experimentation. It feels safe to try this far from home, far from my cemented writing identity.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
I always write in the morning and revise in the afternoon. But social life in the program is extreme, so I don't revise these days...
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
Both. For pleasure I read Natalia Ginzburg and the poems and stories of my colleagues here in the program. For research, Franz Kafka and Maggie Nelson. I don't want to give away the metamorphosis that occurs in my book, but I guess you get it.
4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?
That it is always changing. Every new work comes from a question I haven't asked before and is different from the previous one. Hopefully. I hate repetition in writing. In real life repetition is salvation, it provides a safety net, but in the writing procedure I like to feel free, not safe, free to experiment with form and thus with meaning.
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from - share some favorite details about your home.
I come from Athens. I lived there practically all my life, except from my seven Berlin years. We came back as a family in 2010, my husband, our daughter and me. We live in a small street that combines my husband's and my grandparents name. Strangely enough his uncle was a famous artist who lived there and my grandmother practically owned the land in the 40s. It is a true and very romantic story that I retell in my last auto-fiction novel called Baroque. Now I realise that I talk a lot more about this than about my writing. I guess I miss home.
Thank you Amanda!
Amanda MICHALOPOULOU Αμάντα Μιχαλοπούλου (fiction; Greece) is the author of eight novels, three story collections and children’s fiction, and a contributing editor to Greek and German dailies. Her debut novel Yantes won the 1997 Diavazo Award; I’d Like (2005), in Karen Emmerich’s translation, received National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) International Literature Prize. Her third book in English translation, the novel “God’s Wife”, is coming out by Dalkey Archive on December 17. Her work has been translated into 20 languages; she has had fellowships and literary residencies in Germany, China, the U.S., and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing in Athens, and participates courtesy of an anonymous gift to the IWP.
Photo by Dimitris Tsoumplekas