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Greek Writer Ersi Sotiropoulos to Teach at City University of New York

Ersi Sotiropoulos
Acclaimed Greek novelist and poet Ersi Sotiropoulos is the new Harman Writer in Residence at the City University of New York. Credit: Facebook/Ersi Sotiropoulos

Ersi Sotiropoulos, the famed prize-winning Greek poet and novelist, has been named writer-in-residence at Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, part of the City University of New York.

Taking her position this Spring, Sotiropoulos will be the first Harman Writer-in-Residence to work in modern Greek in the program’s 24-year history. One of Greece’s best-known and highly regarded authors, she will teach a creative fiction course at Baruch during the Spring ’21 semester.

She will be teaching and mentoring students in CUNY’s acclaimed Harman Writer-in-Residence program, which has hosted MacArthur Fellows, Pulitzer winners and other renowned writers ranging from playwright Tony Kushner to novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Ersi Sotiropoulos first writer of modern Greek to be Harman Writer in Residence

Announcing Sotiropoulos’ writer in residence position on Wednesday, Professor Esther Allen, director of the Harman Program, which is housed in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, stated “It’s a thrill to welcome Ersi Sotiropoulos and her powerful blend of poetry and fiction to Baruch.

“Her work has been translated from her native Greek into a dozen or more languages because of her unique ability to infuse intense emotion into depictions of everyday life. Her ideas about helping students find their creative voice and use it to great effect are brilliant, and I’m excited for the students in the class, who are all bursting with talent. One of them, Emanuela Gallo, has won first, second or third place in three 2021 student writing competitions, each judged by a different celebrated writer — really impressive!”

An internationally acclaimed author, Sotiropoulos has published nearly 20 works of fiction and poetry and has won numerous awards, including Greece’s National Book Award, the Greek Book Critics’ Award, and the Athens Academy Prize. Her Harman course is titled “The Writer’s Journey Between Doubt and Confidence.”

Sotiropoulos’s novel “What’s Left of the Night” won the 2017 Prix Méditerranée Étranger in France and its English translation by Karen Emmerich won the 2019 National Translation Award. The book follows Constantine Cavafy, one of Greek’s most esteemed poets, as he comes to terms with his sexuality and defines his voice as an artist in an era of political upheaval and social unrest.

The novelist Edmund White described What’s Left of the Night simply as “A perfect book.”

As the Harman Writer-in-Residence, Sotiropoulos’s course will focus on historical triggers of great literary innovation, as well as how writers are able to overcome periods of writer’s block.

The Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program at CUNY

The Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program, endowed in Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, brings a distinguished writer to campus every semester.

Past participants have been Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, National Book Awardees, and Poet Laureates, including famed playwrights Tony Kushner and Stew Stewart, the novelist Xialou Guo, and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri.

Sotiropoulos is the 48th Harman Writer-in-Residence, as the Program begins its 24th year.

Endowed by alumnus Dr. Sidney Harman (’39), the Harman residency reflects his belief that “good writing is revelatory. It is not merely a transference of fully formed material from brain to paper. Writing is an act of magical creation; writing is discovery.”

The Harman program relies on an intense workshop design, where visiting writers teach small classes and hold individual conferences. Students are encouraged to hone their personal styles and to find their own creative voices.

In addition, the Harman program sponsors student creative writing competitions, literary internships, individual guest readings, and other programming. In November 2021, the program presented “And Then There Was Us,” Baruch’s first student-written show developed with Spring ’21 Harman Writer and acclaimed artist, Stew.

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