Ioannis Kalkounos grew up in Greece and studied English and Greek Language and Philology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In 2011, before moving to Scotland for a Creative Writing MSc at the University of Edinburgh, he self-published the poetic sequence Dakryma.
He has translated various English-language poets into Greek, and his own poetry has appeared in Gutter Magazine. Ioannis is the Programme Manager at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
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Fragments from Children’s Age (excerpt)
As roosters run headless in the garden
—his knife clenched warm and red—
the grandfather whispers to the children:
‘Your heritage is intransigent slopes
at the end of the sky, and ghosts
whose swollen feet carve paths of exile
towards barren plains.
They hold burned branches in their hands—
every dusk they are aflame again and
every night they bloom.
Growing up is understanding the swallows’ nests
—the architecture of abandonment.’
"Poetry often feels like an uphill battle—especially when writing in a second language. I’m grateful and honoured for this award, which came at a pivotal point."