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(Hybrid) Journeys in Sound and Sight with Dimitris Lyacos and Vanessa Onwuemezi

Wed March 13 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


The Library is delighted to welcome authors Dimitris Lyacos and Vanessa Onwuemezi for a conversation about poetic experimentation, style, and musicality.

Join us for an evening of exchange between two contemporary writers: Dimitris Lyacos, author of the highly-esteemed Poena Damni trilogy and Vanessa Onwuemezi, Scholar of Note at the American Library in Paris.  

Considered a front-runner for a Nobel Prize in literature, Lyacos is known for the drifting, dreamlike quality of his work. Across his considerable oeuvre, he turns a post-modern eye upon time-honored themes and motifs, including the demarcation between body and spirit, and the tensions between life and death. With blistering language and hallucinatory settings, Lyacos creates worlds that sometimes verge upon the dystopian. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages, making Lyacos among the most-translated contemporary Greek writers.

Onwuemezi is both a poet and a prose fiction writer. In her work, she, too, deals with sweeping themes: themes like language, loss, and family. During her time as a Scholar of Note at the American Library in Paris, Onwuemezi will conduct research into Antillean poetry and philosophy, which will form the foundation for her next project.

At the Library, in a conversation moderated by Nafkote Tamirat, Lyacos and Onwuemezi will come together to explore the overlaps and divergences between their poetic approaches. Their conversation will center upon topics like style, rhythm, setting, and musicality.

About the speakers:

Dimitris Lyacos’s Poena Damni trilogy is one of the best-selling and most highly regarded works of contemporary European literature. Renowned for combining, in a genre-defying form, themes from literary tradition with elements from ritual, religion, philosophy and anthropology, Poena Damni reexamines grand narratives in the context of some of the enduring motifs of the Western Canon, most notably violence, mental illness, the scapegoat and the return of the dead. Developed as a work in progress over the course of three decades, the trilogy has been translated in more than 20 languages and has given rise to musical, visual and theatre projects. Lyacos in an entrant in Who’s Who, the database of the most prominent individuals across all fields of human activity and he is also considered as Greece’s most likely candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Chapter G from the trilogy’s prequel Until the Victim Becomes our Own was published in MAYDAY while chapters D, L and V are forthcoming in Image JournalRiver Styx and Chicago Review later on this year.

Vanessa Onwuemezi is a London-based writer and poet. Her short story “At the Heart of Things” won The White Review’s Short Story Prize in 2019. Another of her stories, titled “Green Afternoon,” was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2022. Onwuemezi published her debut short story collection, Dark Neighbourhood, with Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2021. The collection was named one of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2021; it was also shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize and for the Edge Hill Prize in 2022.

Nafkote Tamirat (she/her) is a novelist, short story writer, teacher, and translator. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia University, Nafkote studied translation at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, where she translated the Amharic-language play, Yekermo Sew by Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, which was later performed by the Masrah Ensemble at the Triangles Festival-in-Progress in Beirut. Her first novel, The Parking Lot Attendant, was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She’s currently working on her second novel, which is about the Ethiopian diaspora in the US, but also exiled giants living in time-loop prisons.


In March, the Library is delighted to be hosting Reverberations: Literature Out Loud, a festival spotlighting innovations in the arts. In a series of concerts, conversations, and workshops, artists and authors are coming together to celebrate the history of storytelling and sound. Learn more about the festival and discover other events.

Reverberations is organized in partnership with the Opéra Comique and with the generous support of Festival Napa Valley, the American Center for Arts and Culture, and the Florence Gould Foundation. 

Learn more:

To get a sense of Dimitris Lyacos’s vertiginous poetic style, check out this excerpt from his book Z213: Exit.

Vanessa Onwuemezi came to the Library in 2022 to discuss her widely-acclaimed short-story collection, Dark Neighbourhood. In case you missed it: you can watch a recording of the program here.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speakers will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Wed March 13
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Journeys in Sound and Sight with Dimitris Lyacos and Vanessa Onwuemezi
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