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ROULA POLLARD

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 12/15/2016 |



SONGSOPTOK: Do you think literature is really essential in our life? If so why? In your opinion, what is the true relationship between life and literature? What is your own experience? And how does this relationship relate to the general history of mankind?

ROULA: Writing is for me a ritual, extending time into its unseen dimensions, penetrating deeply into my existence.  As if from a spring of sacred water, the words run out of my heart, to meet Nature and humanity through the poem. Each poem is as a scenario, film, virtual reality, and I am the creator of a new world.  The poem, each word, verse, stanza, unearths the history of humankind. Literature represents the essence of human experience, and my life experience. 


SONGSOPTOK: We would like to know the beginning of the story, i.e. how your upbringing contributed to your own writing. Who were your favorite literary figures during the early period of your life? How they have paved your early routes in literature?

ROULA: Born after the Greek Civil war, I lived through historical events and natural disasters. As a five-year old child, I saw the flames coming up from the bowels of the Earth on an islet opposite Thira. Having witnessed the destructive earthquake on Zante, Also, as a child, I saw our 100-year old house collapsing like a straw structure. So, my childhood heroes were real life war heroes, I was surrounded by fascinating story tellers of different ages, happy people despite current events, narrating their life adventures with a lot of humor. I was breathing  in  every word  and then was re-creating their stories.. Did I need fictional heroes?


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that literature also bridges the human world with the Mother Nature? As well as with the present time of our surroundings?

ROULA: From ancient times, the writer either expressed life’s memories or narrated  vividly centuries’ old stories. I come from a literary tradition more than 3.500. At that time, a river was considered a God, the seasons were represented by a certain goddess, humankind and nature were interconnected. Even Alfred De Musse wrote, ”Man is a learner, Nature is his teacher”.  Nature is the all-knowing mind, and this utmost knowledge is passed on to the writer. Today, nature is no longer  a teacher,  but a wounded mother. We all are fully aware of Nature’s destruction  by humans  and capitalism’s blind exploitation of the Earth. To a great extent, the old relationship of literature been a bridge between man and nature, or teacher, has been disconnected.


SONGSOPTOK: What are the main events that you think are the major issues that have influenced present day literature?

ROULA: The issues are many, and to some extent, similar  from country to country:  Human relationships, humanitarian issues, love, peace, war, human rights, nature,  terrorism, poverty, psychology.  I also find that writers in the West are more pessimistic than in the East, or in Africa -- where literature flourishes, is highly esteemed, and has more vitality, ideology, spirituality, and the ability to bond people together.  


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature has largely been extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general? Now in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul; how do you respond to this present time

ROULA: In our global village, literature does change almost as fast as major international political events succeed each other, as history runs faster than any time in the past,  as new medical inventions take place, climate changes occur all over our planet, or as terrorism digs its nails into the continents.  When new wars start, major social changes occur. Literature always follows these changes. In this very fast-shifting environment, I try to catch up as much as I can. Can I? Is the information from the media true, or is it biased, how much am I influenced  by the black-out of the truth, do I/we ever solve out the major dilemmas connected with critical issues? Should I stay positive and optimistic in relation to the current negative changes, or should I be paralyzed by fear? Luckily, times like these coincide with a stronger spiritual awareness. Been aware, I am never a victim. When serious, negative international events occur – and this is almost every day, a small or big miracle happens, and my life awakens as I experience a spiritual rebirth. 


SONGSOPTOK: Now if we try to understand tradition and modernism in literature, do you think poetry can play a pivotal role relating the two? If so, how? What are your opinions about the role of the poet in bridging the gap, if any, between tradition and modernism?

ROULA: If we use the term, ‘tradition’, to cover 19th century literature in England and North America, modernism began about the end of the 19th century or  at the beginning of the 20th century and ended between 1945 and 1965, according to researchers; to be followed by post-modernism. Modernism experimented with literary form and expression, conveyed the horrors of the First and Second World Wars, and put an end to human values as they were known before. Poetry underwent the same stylistic and subject matter changes, as a revolution occurred in other art forms.   
                                    

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that society is the key factor in shaping you up as a writer. What about your own country? What is the influence of your country & your culture in your writing? Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality?  Is it an incentive or an obstacle for becoming a truly international writer?

ROULA: Society is certainly the key factor in shaping my writing style and its content. Luckily, from a young age, I felt  like a caged bird wanting to fly out of the cage of my country. The experience of living for 25 years in England, a multi-cultural society was first like a shock and then a great, diverse learning and life experience. I enriched both cultures, as my love for Greece and its culture strengthened; I never felt as an immigrant in England, because I genuinely love people and nature and I was privileged to have choices.  Then, I made a new beginning again, returning to Greece. Here, I discovered, as a mature adult, with new eyes, the legendary and mythical landscape of my youth, strengthened my values, and reinforced my existence with new issues and ideals. The colors and shapes of the Greek landscape have acquired  magical qualities for me. The present mixes harmoniously with the history of the past and creates a balance of sounds, a special energy. These combinations of experiences, the extra sense of knowing Greece from the beginning, allowed the caged bird, my soul, to open my wings as an international writer.   


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace? Why? Are you a protagonist of "art for art's sake"? Can you please present us with your point of view?

ROULA: I do not believe that living in turmoil is my creative background. I believe in the asterism of “happiness”, despite the human suffering, fear, poverty, lack of love, hate, wars, terrorism, and the huge environmental problems we have created.  Personal unhappiness creates “a black and white” writing and way of life. The life of  literature has a multitude of seen and unseen colors. I never believed in “art for art’s sake”, especially as I grew up during a dictatorship. I have been an activist from my childhood, so I believe that been a writer is a mission.  I also came to believe that literature, and poetry in particular should not be written for entertainment; the currents of inspiration, a poem, a stanza, a verse are a healing spring, awakening forces, liberating both body and mind.


SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think people in general actually bother about literature in general?  Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature? And do you think poetry or literature can solve any problems in our everyday life? Why should we adhere to it?

ROULA: People in general read novels, biographies, autobiographies, poetry, short stories, travel books, etc. Also, certain professions read specialist literature.  I think that the average reader will never read an experimental novel, Homer, or contemporary poetry, unless the quality of education is improved. I have witnessed that a number of young people did not commit suicide because they read an optimistic poem. And in other cases, psychologically broken people were healed when they read a novel, prisoners changed attitudes, as  certain books sustained them when in prison. A prime example is Nelson Mandela, who read daily William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus”, written in 1875, to keep his hope alive. My question is “ how many literature and poetry books from those published every year are truly interesting, asking vital questions, are healing books?”.  The humankind needs healing and if we write books about hate, sex, drugs, and pessimism just for consumers, we need more enlightened teachers, education ministers, school consultants and writers. 


SONGSOPTOK:  Are you a feminist? Can literature play any decisive role in feminism at all? What role can literature play to make our lives better on a day to day basis?

ROULA: Feminism started around the beginning of the 20th century  in the West and became stronger from  the early 60’s to late 80’s. The notion has changed since its concept, the new generation of iconic feminist writers have milder views as society and women’s views changed. Great writers such us Simon de Beauvoir to Germaine Greer were the Bible of feminists, the icons of many women. As an early and late student, I went through feminism, to progress as  a female pacifist,  and ended up believing in “no more civil wars between the sexes”. I value immensely the strength of genuine love, in all its forms; and appreciate the notion that Marianne Williamson represents, an enlightened, humanistic and advance type of love. I hope literature’s main function in the future will cultivate the idea of Universal love, as new love, free from the negative memories of past love, and adjusted to the enlightenment of the  21st century. 


SONGSOPTOK: Now if we want to look ahead, do you think that there is an oncoming crisis for literature in general? Will it bring new dimensions in our life ahead? Or do you think that the future of literature is not as bright as it should be?

ROULA: My view is: The future of literature depends on political, social, religious and educational developments. Can political oppression, wars, and poverty create the background  for quality literature? Certainly not. Been an optimist though, I believe that  the growth and strengthening of  positive ideas, new enlightened  political leaders, lower unemployment,  lack of human exploitation, optimism and respect that all forms of life are sacred, and absence of religious  fanaticism can lead humankind to  a New Renaissance resulting to peace, and brother-sisterhood. Lack of ideals, imperialism, and international debts will lead to larger production of best sellers, useful only  for holiday reading. I am confident that literature’s future is not dark.  I envision that as the developing countries, or countries still starving for knowledge, progress, a new greenhouse of literature is expected to give growth to high quality  books, provided they do not copy the style and ideas of the West. Also, the  radical fact that “ the Academy of Emergency Art” was  created in Denmark by Thierry Geoffroy in 2015, begets the hope that the west can give birth to new ideas and strength in future literature and poetry. 


ROULA POLLARD Her family originated in Malta. Its history goes back to the 13th century. Her ancestors moved to Greece about the 16th century and eventually settled on the island of Zante.  In the 1820’s, her great great grandfather studied in the Ionian Academy, Corfu, the first ever Greek university of modern Greece. Ever since, and for the next 120 years, all the men from her father’s side were teachers. Her paternal grandmother and her mother were feminists. Roula Pollard, born on the island of Santorini, studied History and Archaeology, at Athens University and received an M.A. in Classics, at Leeds University. She lived in England, 1975-1998, and taught Modern Greek language and Civilization. 

As a literary promoter, Roula promoted more than 100 English and Greek poets at English universities, colleges, poetry festivals, high schools, and literary associations. She organized poetry workshops in England for high schools as well as for children with special needs. She participated in prestigious English and Greek poetry festivals.

Roula cooperated with university students, professors, painters, choreographers, and musicians for a numbers of English plays, multimedia performances, and Greek concerts. Roula published three poetry collections in Greek: “Presence” “Points of Silence”, and “The Birth of Beautiful Time”. She has written six poetry collections, in English and in Greek, still unpublished. Roula has also:
·        Published articles on contemporary Greek, English, and American poets. 
·        Translated Plath’s and Ted Hughes’ poems into Greek.
·        Broadcasted on Greek Radio and the BBC.
·         Has been promoting the return of the Parthenon statues from the British to the Acropolis museum, Athens, and the return of the classical Olympic Games to ancient Olympia, Greece.
·        Her poems are published in more than 15 international poetry anthologies, various Greek anthologies, and have been translated into Italian, Albanian, and Hindi.


We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen
(EDITOR)

Songsoptok

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