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I Athens

ULYSSES European Odyssey

Yiannis Doukas
Youth, citizenship & democracy

Eighteen established writers, one from each city/region, will be commissioned to write a chapter in a response to their Arts & Society theme within the context of their city.

Just as Ulysses is innovative in its form and language, so the writers will be chosen with a view to reflecting a breadth of genres, styles and innovations. Each writer will ideally attend their own city’s event. All the (new) chapters from the 18 cities/regions will be brought together in a book publication: ULYSSES European Odyssey.

Yiannis Doukas will write the Athens chapter.

Writer’s Statement

Having worked on epic poetry for my Ph.D. in Classics at the University of Galway, on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, at one point residing within walking distance from the house where Nora Barnacle—later to become Joyce’s wife and the model for Molly Bloom—was born and raised, it would come as no surprise that the Odyssey, Ulysses, and the cultural and literary itineraries between them would strongly resonate with me. Living back in my birthplace and hometown of Athens since, I often find myself pondering over the concepts of youth, citizenship and democracy which form the rationale of the city’s participation in this European Odyssey. My Athens, however, is not the ideal invoked by Buck Mulligan in the first chapter of Ulysses. Youth finds itself threatened and frustrated, faced with suffocating precariousness; citizenship has been corroded beyond recognition, replaced by the identity of the social media platform user as a guinea pig; democracy is rapidly degenerating into an illiberal form of government. In my contribution, I will address these issues in the form of a poetic narrative; my Athens, however, can also be found to exist beyond the dystopian realities of lived experience, between memory and imagination. Nor is my Ireland the place from where Joyce sought and managed to escape. Between memory and imagination, my text will also unavoidably be a personal and literary tribute paid to the lands, landscapes, and landmarks of my life.

Writer’s Biography

Yiannis Doukas was born in Athens (1981). He studied Greek Philology, Classics and Digital Humanities. He earned his Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Galway, where he worked on intertextuality in Late Greek Epic and its digital representation. So far, he has published three books of poetry: At Inner Borders (Polis, 2011, Diavazo journal Debut Poetry Collection Award); The Stendhal Syndrome (Polis 2013, G. Athanas Award of the Academy of Athens); thebes memphis (Polis, 2020). Selections from his work have been included in such anthologies as Austerity Measures (edited by Karen Van Dyck, Penguin, 2016) and translated into Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish and Serbian. He has also written the lyrics for two songs by Thanos Mikroutsikos, included In the Fog of the Times (2017), his final album. He currently lives and works in Athens.