“Madness, the true marathon” is a phrase written with big letters on the back of Eliza Stefanidi’s book of poems “Sleeping with Plato”. In her debut publication the reader takes a trip into a beautiful surreal wave of observations and thoughts about her own personal and emotional struggle,her being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24. Cheeky almost-rhymes about the sense of self, humanity, society, the crisis, all reaching delightful and often dark crescendos in just a few lines which raised my expectations for a very interesting conversation. My expectations were met to the fullest extend.
Can you tell me the process that led you write this particular book ? Why is it called Sleeping with Plato?
I`ve been writing since I can remember myself and that was 5 years old. It is like a outcome (the book) of what a child writes. I mean, I always think that I can`t speak well and express what I want, but when I write, it`s effortless, whatever comes, it comes out naturally.
Why Sleeping with Plato?
Because it is a poem I wrote when I was 21, before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and that is when, for me, this journey began.
Why did you choose to write it in English?
Just because I can! It`s hard being bipolar and bilingual (chuckles).This is my debut collection of poems in English, its the first time I write something in English. Greek is difficult. The expectations are higher I think. Plus I find more intriguing writing in a language you don’t speak every day, like you do your native language. I like difficult things, not in the sense that I want my life to be difficult, I actually would love for my life to be easy. It’s just when it comes to writing, I find the challenging to be way more interesting.
When was Sleeping with Plato conceived and when was it completed?
It took me eleven years to finish the book, It contains fragments of my life from when I was twenty one. I`m considering it my spiritual child, which for me is like giving birth, just not in the physical sense. I wrote it between London and Athens with loads of tutorials with my editor and friend Todd Swift who actually made this decision for me. One day he just went: “we are ready for a book”. I thank him in the book for that very thing. When someone believes in you, it gives you the courage to do things. I am not always comfortable with what I write, it exposes parts of you and inner thoughts you don’t necessarily want to see exposed.So a year and a half ago, I made the decision of taking that very weakness,and taking it a step further. So I turned it into a site.
At that point we should mention that Eliza’s site http://www.writepostexpose.net/ gives the opportunity for other writers to have a voice and get noticed, since traffic in that site is increasing rapidly. In her “about” page it says: The message is yours. You are the message.
You have a voice no matter your age, language or skills.
Write, post, expose, rethink, rewrite, post, expose
All it takes is something you’ve written.
“I never actually believed in my abilities. So it was amazing that someone like Todd Swift did, it meant a lot to me. Personally I am a shy person and hate being the center of attention so much that even at my book launch in London, I felt uncomfortable and out of place. At the same time, you can’t really hide when you write.It’s all there for the world to see.
Do you think that something that is broken should not be fixed? I am of course, referring to “Dear”
I depends. If you want to get it fixed, you can. Not that you should necessarily want to. That is not the issue. The poem is about death and life, and the inspiration behind it was hearing the news about Peaches Geldof found dead. It was in all the headlines and it was something that made me write this life and death poem.
I don’t tend to write only when I imagine things I tend to live things, then write.
So what’s next? Another book? Poetry or prose? Greek or English?
There is a smile and a quizzical eyebrow. "There are two books, one in English and one in Greek, one poetry which I love and one prose. Hopefully I’ll be alive when they come out so I’ll will be more specific when the time demands it she says in a very sheepish manner." I think time is on her side.
“Sleeping with Plato” is available online and print from Eyewear Publishing