Dimitris Athinakis: “Latenighter”. An urban poet in Athens

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Dimitris Athinakis writes.He works as a translator and copywriter, as well as a conceptionist in the field of online marketing, while also having already published two poetry collections. His words are ones we use every day and tap directly into the mind and soul of modern youth. Short stories that carry with them the scent of the city, full of innocent cynicism, constantly searching for the truth.

When did you start writing? Is it something you always liked or did it come out of the blue?

I don’t think I’ve ever started. I have this feeling that I’m always at the starting line, like the mouse and the cheese, circling constantly, until I eventually decide to attack and say what I want, exactly how I want to say it. It rarely happens. I suspect it just happened. Or rather, it constantly happens, just not that often. What inspires you? Every day life? Or your own imagination? Every day life. It’s such a tired term. I sometimes wonder if the city carries its every day imagery on its back, or if it’s the other way around. I mean the city is a living organism, we can choose to look at it as we will, or as it suits us, but ultimately she will do what she wants. I love cities. Urban structures hold so many stories within them. On the other hand, all that nature is for me, at least until now, is documentaries on the television and documentaries bore me. And I don’t really know what imagination means in this process, of writing I mean. Imagining is not something that suits me, though I love to fantasize.

So what do you want to tell your reader with your poems?

I have a feeling I’m continuously telling the same story, only in a different way each time. However, I would really like for all these writings to be part of the same bunch. Like as elements of a long conversation over coffee, tea and loads of cigarettes, where having a point doesn’t really matter, just as long as everyone takes away from it what he wants. What happens after that is another story altogether. If we keep talking, then everything will fall into place.

What’s the one lyric that best describes that moment?

“Pray for those watchmen that never sleep”, by Niko-Alexis Aslanoglou, because I have a thing for those that have a firm grip on the night, that support it, for those that don’t allow daybreak to come quickly, and because mainly due to my schedule, I miss late nights, those breaks of dawn that don’t come too soon.

Are you a cynic or a romantic? Sometimes you have us wondering.

If I had to choose I’d class myself as a cynic. If you can keep a secret, then I’m a romantic. I invest in cynicism, and I owe it my self-knowledge, that which is there in any case. I owe romance all my rights and wrongs, all those things I’ve decided to do and do again.

If you could write with images, what kind of painting would you create?

It would be an image of Athens, as I have seen it from a penthouse view in Kaisariani. From there, you can make out everything in the distance, you can see everything. If I could write with images, I would make a map of the pavements of Athens, one by one, by constantly looking down at my shoes.

What do you love about Athens and what do you hate about it?

I love everything about it, it’s every centimeter. Even this clichéd gray everyone goes on about, I like that to, it doesn’t get to me in the slightest. I like small spheres of joy: friends and their homes, a handful of hangouts, gigs, abandoned buildings from the start of the past century. I can’t stand boarded up stores, it’s not something that is easy to look at, and those drawn, dark curtains in some of the city’s ground floors. To be fair, I hate what makes them be so, not them. I love Athens, without her, I would be someone else. Now that I think of it, maybe that would be a good thing, I really don’t know.


Photo: Yiorgos Mavropoulos

Interview: Nelly Skoufatoglou
Translation: Makis Papasimakopoulos