Stephanos Stephanides at Bir Mula
  islands and separation



Cypriot poet and professor of literature, Stephanos Stephanides, will be the guest of Inizjamed at a poetry reading at the Bir Mula Heritage House in St. Margaret Street, Bormla (close to the newly renovated Home for the Elderly), on Friday, 7 May, at 10.00pm.


The other poets who will be reading their works that deal mainly with islands and separation are Norbert Bugeja, Claudia Fiorini, Maria Grech Ganado, Adrian Grima, Simone Inguanez, and Immanuel Mifsud.


Stephanos Stephanides writes in English, which became his stepmother tongue at the age of nine or ten. He has a personal and academic interest in dislocation, migration, Diaspora, memory and forgetting. After finishing his University studies at Cardiff, he lived briefly in Greece and Spain, and then spent seven years in Guyana, South America and seven in Washington DC.

He returned to Cyprus in 1992 to join the founding faculty of the University of Cyprus where he is professor of English and Comparative Literature. His forays into different languages and cultures inform his work as critic, scholar, poet, and translator. Professor Stephanides has been invited to Malta to take part in a colloquium organized by the ACUME project funded by the EU (
Cultural memory in European Countries: Difference and Identity in a United Europe"
) and hosted by the University of Malta.


Stephanos Stephanides is the local mentor of the Cypriot group of emerging writers who are taking part in the Klandestini multilateral creative writing project run by Inizjamed and the British Council. For more information about Stephanos Stephanides go to the Klandestini website and to the site of the site of Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Cyprus. His poem "Sentience" is also available on the Klandestini website.


Bormla and Bir Mula

Bir Mula Heritage House is situated in Bormla (also known as Cospicua), one of the three maritime cities in the Grand Harbour opposite the capital city of Valletta. Bormla was the first inhabited town in Malta's historic creek.

  • From a sheltered dwelling place of the first inhabitants of the Maltese Islands, to the favourite bay of fishermen, sailors, merchants, and colonisers.

  • From a maritime prehistoric village to a conspicuous city becoming the cradle of cultural, social, economic, and maritime activity.

  • Five conspicuous hills destined to support two lines of fortifications: an architectural jewel of the 17th Century and a unique international heritage.


Reproduced from the leaflet Bormla - Città Cospicua, published by Bir Mula Heritage Ltd.



According to Mr. John Vella, its owner and curator, the Bir Mula Heritage House in St. Margaret Street in Bormla is over a thousand years old. Its construction phases date from the Arab period to the 17th century. The cellar, which was once part of a farm, was converted to a residence in the early Arab years. Two storeys were added and converted during the 12th, 14th, and 17th centuries.


The house witnessed the invasion of the Turks in 1565, secret meetings of the Knights, including the Templars, and the revolt against the French occupation. It survived fires set by the retreating Turks and the French troops, and the fierce attacks of World War II. There are also graffiti of maritime vessels and other elements of of historical value.


Since 1997, the house has been restored and converted into a history and heritage exhibition of Bormla and its people. BMH houses exhibitions and lectures by local and foreign personalities all year round.

Bir Mula Heritage, 79, Triq Santa Margerita, Bormla. CSP 02 Tel. 2166 1000 - 2182 6427


Saying YES in Cyprus


15 poets, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots came together to use their imagination and work on a common poem . We decided to work on a concept and we chose the concept ‘YES’ which is a very popular and  also unpopular word today in our country.


We had in mind that every YES is also a NO to something else and every NO has also a YES. We approached YES as a very affirmative word. A word we learn first in the other’s language, a word which is an opening rather than a closure, a word which can bring a change…


We wanted to make an intervention with the language of poetry to the area of politics which is in our houses every night through the TV screens. Which  fills us with so much anxiety and negative energy with its confronting  and often fearfull attitude.


We found a big YES in our hearts for a better future and for a unifying Cyprus. We did not discuss about plans, about property, about percentages… We looked at our own YES’es


All the poets produced their own verses and then we made a collage.







Yes, to a bird with open wings

To the open sky, to the open sea

Yes, to lips open to a smile

To a wish, to hope

Magical words

The revenge of silenced hearts against history

While kissing the wind of love

To share the same flame

Sing the same song

Be drunk with the same passion

Make love under the same moon

Let my heart my body be light

So that I can speak

What is Greek what is Turkish

Are they two houses exchanging each other

Are they two lives filled to the brim

Emptying themselves

into sand bags

Yes, I said as though drawing a beautiful bird

Nearing extinction

I am handing it over to you

So that you can add yet another colour

A bird hidden for so long in my heart

A YES bird; so close to bursting my heart open

Take this joy

Attach it to the bird’s wing

As though planting new saplings

In a beautiful forest

I sit, sweating, breathless

So as to send a wave from deep inside me

Look there, at the abyss of my heart

That thing amongst the flames is “Yes”

Life will fall, like a star

And we will also change

Yes, a palm open to the other

To the different, to the unknown

I passed through the border amongst

The rumble of thousands of migrating butterflies

I know this day of May will be the day

Oh wall

Your stones

We will burry

In the foundations of our common house

The whole universe

Fits into a single word!

Yes: What a joyful word!

To sing the song of heavenly love

Say Yes! To your good neighbours in exile

Open the doors ajar with your hands

Say yes! Let’s come out onto the doorsteps

Clean out our wounds

Kiss by kiss



Neşe Yaşın, Filiz Naldöven, Lily Michailidou, Fikret Demirağ, Elli Peonidou, Zeki Ali, Takis Hadjigeorgiou,Tamer Öncül, Feriha Altok, Neriman Cahit, M. Kansu, Stephanos Stephanides, Gür Genç, Jenan Selçuk, Michalis Papadopoulos, Aydın Mehmet Ali


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