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The lecture guides the listener on a journey through the modern history of Cyprus, specifically the period 1960–1974 and its immediate aftermath. I do not explore events so much as attitudes, discourses and traumas refracted through selections from the work of the foremost poets of the period who wrote in Greek: Kostas Montis (1914–2004), Pantelis Michanikos (1926-1979), Michalis Pashiardis (1941–) and Kyriakos Charalambides (1940–). The readings from Montis showcase standard Greek-Cypriot responses to the Turkish invasion as an outrage (July 20, 1974). The choices from Charalambides display the harsh realities of displacement and the gaping wound of the hundreds still “missing in action”. The poems of Michanikos and Pashiardis speak about internal (Greek on Greek) and intercommunal strife, as well as the catastrophic cocktail of blind hatred, shameful incompetence and criminal complacency which precipitated the disaster. Montis exposes what can be regarded as the official Greek-Cypriot narrative, a simplistic understanding of the events as an epic story of triumphs resulting from (Greek) Cypriots pursuing their (Greek) ‘natural’ rights and disasters befalling as a result of foreign incursion presented in effect as unprovoked. Charalambides contributes a more reflective story of human loss with overtones of Greek tragedy. Finally, the poems of Michanikos and Pashiardis flagellate the reader with unforgiving truths about history as a more complex game of actions and reactions, intersecting interests and shared guilt. All poems are presented in original English translations by the speaker.

Read the lecture here.