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This Wednesday sees the launch of Sitron Panopoulos’ poetry collection In These Great Democracies taking over Vogue Fabrics from basement to first floor. Here Sitron gives us the lowdown about writing poems, his inspiration and what you can expect on Wednesday. How did you get into writing poetry?

When I moved to London I studied film because I had all these crazy stories in my head that I wanted to tell…

Then, too young and impatient to complete films, I decided to put those stories into songs; so I started singing in a punk band called ‘Chips’. Who wants to be a film maker when you can be a rock star hahah… I never became one either.  A couple of years ago, a friend of mine Martin Bjorck came to see me play and offered to make an album of my songs.

At the time I was going through a phase of documenting encounters that were taking place in my life: one night stands, tender moments of friendship, even the unpleasant encounters.

Some of them became songs, some of them stood on their own as written pieces.  The latter ones became poems and another friend encouraged me to make a collection of them for other people to read.

Do you have any particular writers that inspire you? Emily and Charlotte Bronte made me want to move to England.

Daphne Du Maurier was a good companion through my teenage years.

Vladimir Mayakovsky, The poet of The Soviet Revolution and H.P. Kavafi, the Greek Alexandrian poet are the two masters I always go back to.

What else inspires you? Love and complexities, camaraderie and sustainability.

Tourism… may that be class tourism, cultural tourism, relationship tourism, or geographical tourism. I am drawn to all of them, addicted to the feeling of being other.

Enlightenment and kindness, for enlightenment lies only within kindness.

Tells us a bit more about your first poetry collection In These Great Democracies. Are there any common threads running through it? What themes do the poems cover? I started writing the poems that became In These Great Democracies around time of the credit crunch. I was looking at London, feeling this immense love for the city, the kind of love you feel when you are about to lose something or someone. I was worried I would no longer be able to sustain myself living in this city and at the same time feeling grateful to have managed to live here for as long as I have, to have met all the people I had. It was about feeling grateful for all the moments I had spent with people in this city, dancing with them, sleeping with them, drinking coffee with them.  It was about realising the magic of the moment.  Realising I was extremely lucky to live in a city that enables me to be the person I want to be, in a city that offers second chances.

Have you been trying out which poems work for audiences by performing/reading them? If so, how did your first performance go? Yes, this summer has been a summer of readings, both at literary events and non-literary events.  I went anywhere they’d have me…

Up in Highgate Woods, down at the cosmopolitan dives of Dalston… it has been nerve-wrecking and great.

As you’ve already mentioned you also used to be in a few bands. Do you still make music? Yes, yes, yes!!!  This book is the twin partner of an album of songs, with the same title and themes, that is coming out shortly.  Like I said earlier; some of my written pieces became the poems, others became lyrics and songs.  All this poetry stuff has been taking a lot of time but the music is behind everything.

What can people expect at the launch night of In These Great Democracies?

There will be dancing, romancing and poetry recitals…

The plan is to have a fun evening.  Vogue Fabrics is the perfect place for the book launch to take place as some of the poems in the book have been inspired by hanging out  there or by people I have met there…  Friends, lovers (and ex-lovers!) and myself will be doing some readings.  There will be three ‘acts’ on the night, three performers in each act reading a series of poems that tell a little story.

What are you reading at the moment? Anything you want to recommend? Hmm, Jonathan Kemp’s book ‘London Triptych’ is amazing, one of those books you read and re-read every few years that you literally cannot put down,

‘Mayakovsky, Russian Poet’ by Elsa Triolet

‘The TM Technique’ by Peter Russell.

The launch of In These Great Democracies takes place this Wednesday at Vogue Fabrics.