An Interview with Jeffrey Carson

5, May 2016 § Leave a comment

Jeffrey Carson, professor of creative writing, art history and literature at the Aegean Center, has recently been interviewed for Parola magazine.

In an in-depth article, Jeffrey reflects on living in Paros since the 1970s along with his wife, photography professor Elizabeth Carson.

“When we first came here in the sixties, we stayed for six months, and then we went back so that both of us could finish our university education. We decided to come back to Paros in the early seventies because I wanted to try writing and my wife wanted to bring her cameras and become a real photographer.  We both did that an until now we are still doing it. When we remembered Paros and our six months here, the photos were beautiful, it was quiet.  It was nothing like the modern world, nothing like New York… We are both New Yorkers.  There were almost no cars.  They had just started the ferry boat.

We lived in an old house, a ‘katoikia,’ we had a donkey and we had a well.  There were no people in the countryside, our light was from oil lamps and we thought this was very poetic.  And although it was difficult, it was poetic.”

Jeffrey also describe his role as a teacher at the Aegean Center since its early years, writing the first guidebook of Paros, and translating all of Elytis’ poems.

“When I was 22 years old, I bought a book called “Four Modern Poets of Greece” — Seferis, Kavafis, Sikelianos and Elytis.  And when I got to Elytis’ poems about the Aegean, I said ‘This is what I am trying to do.  He does it better!’  So I started, as I learned Greek, teaching myself from school books, doing little translations to understand the poems better, and after I’d been doing this for four years — but not seriously — I met Nikos Sarris and he was in love with Elytis.  So we talked and talked and talked and then we made a few translations together.  We sent them to Elytis and he wrote back saying,  “These are the best translations of my work I have ever read.” And that’s how we started.  And then he said “Do you want more?”  So we did.  We translated everything.”

Jeffrey also discusses the changes he has seen in Paros and Greece in the more than forty years that he has lived on Paros and among many other anecdotes, about the time he brought the first piano to Paros:

The piano was made in 1888 I bought in Athens at Nakas’s and six of us guys had to carry it across the field up to my house.  Within two years children started knocking at my door.  “Give me lessons!  Give me lessons”  for all kinds of instruments because they knew I had been a high school music teacher in New York.  So I taught violin, clarinet, flute and accordion.  So all the kids who knew how to read music in Paros learned from me.”

You can read the full interview here.

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