Welcome to Literary Ventures, a column where editor-in-chief Rebecca Morgan Frank talks to writers, editors, and entrepreneurs about their new literary ventures. Our first guest is novelist Henriette Lazaridis, founding editor of The Drum literary magazine and the newly launched Krouna Writing Workshop, which will take place this summer in Papingo, Greece.
Tell us about the Krouna Writing Workshop and why you started it.
I’ve been going to Papingo for almost my entire life, as it’s the village where my great-great-grandfather built the house the Krouna Writing Workshop takes place in. In recent years, I’ve been spending time there not just hiking but also sitting in the courtyard beneath the grape arbor, working on a manuscript. You don’t have to spend more than one day doing that to realize that it offers a great combination of inspiration and motivation—something I thought other writers would enjoy and benefit from. To me, Papingo is perfectly suited for a writing workshop. The courtyard is just right for small groups gathered around separate tables but in a shared communal space. The village is compact enough to make all attendees feel part of a community while also being able to explore within the cobbled streets or out into the mountains. But there’s a personal reason, too, for my starting the Krouna Writing Workshop. I’ve always wanted to show others how wonderful Papingo is, to make it possible for others to have those great days of hiking and writing and reading that I’ve enjoyed so often. In the last hundred years, the village has gone through many wars and has seen its population age and decline. But it has always proudly preserved its architecture and customs. I’m excited to be among the many Papingiotes helping to bring new life into the village and help it find its new incarnation as a center of art and creativity.
Where is Papingo, and what can writers expect to experience there?
Just an hour’s drive from the Ottoman-era city of Ioannina, Papingo is one of the most unique villages in Greece. Perched at an elevation of 3,000 feet, it’s bordered on one side by the cliffs of Astraka which rise to 8,000 feet, and on the other by the open view of waves of mountains all the way to the Ionian Sea. At one corner of the Astraka cliffs is Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world for its width and length. This is not the white-washed Greece of the islands, but the Balkan Greece, a gorgeous part of the country, full of mountains and valleys and a rich history of culture and, alas, conflict. To drive from Ioannina to Papingo, you start in a city whose most prominent feature is a 17th-century minaret and wind through a valley where crucial battles of the Second World War took place. Papingo is in an area of Greece called the Zagori, where the villages prospered in the mid-19th century when the stone courtyard houses were built. The village hosts several inns and boutique hotels, tavernas, cafes, and a library, and there is even village-wide free wifi. In Papingo, writers will find themselves in a gorgeous natural setting of mountains, cliffs, and trout streams, with plenty of spots to relax and find calm and inspiration. And for those seeking activity during the KWW’s free time, there are paths and trails for running and hiking, a swimming hole in a limestone-cut stream, and more villages in the region to explore for their architecture and landscape and food.
Who are the faculty, and what will they be teaching?
The Krouna Writing Workshop instructors are me, Henriette Lazaridis, and Daphne Kalotay. Daphne is the author of several works of fiction, including the story collection Calamity, and two novels, Russian Winter and Sight Reading. I am the author of the novel The Clover House. You’ll find more detailed information about both of us on the website. I’ll be working primarily with novelists and Daphne with writers of short fiction.
Where can our readers find out more about the program or apply?
You can find out more about the workshop and how to apply at krounawritingworkshop.com. Writers completing an application by April 15, 2017 will receive a $250 tuition discount!
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