Stelios Mormoris is currently the C.E.O. of SCENT BEAUTY, Inc. A dual citizen of Greece and the U.S., Stelios has spent most of his life living in Paris. He received his undergraduate degree in architecture at Princeton, and an M.B.A. from INSEAD in France.
Stelios attended the Tupelo Press Manuscript Conference by in March 2021, where he worked on finalizing his first full-length manuscript, entitled “The Oculus.”
He has published work in THE FOURTH RIVER, GARGOYLE, GOOD LIFE REVIEW, HUMANA OBSCURA, HIGH-LIFE REVIEW, MIDWEST POETRY REVIEW, the NASSAU LITERARY REVIEW, PRESS, SOUTH ROAD, SPILLWAY, SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW, VERSE, the WHELK WALK REVIEW and other journals.
Stelios has held positions on the Boards of the French Cultural Center of Boston, Historic New England, The Fragrance Foundation, SYMRISE, ACT-UP, and is a member of the Kytherian Society of Greece.
Kristina Marie Darling: Your work has a distinct neoclassical sensibility, which is refreshing in a literary landscape filled with topical poetry. Can you speak to the rewards and possibilities inherent in doing something different from other contemporary poets?
Stelios Mormoris: I suppose my disenchantment with American politics, lack of true governance in our elected representatives, societal divisions, declining literacy and education, as well as a general malaise in respect among Americans….has driven me away from commenting on these issues in my poetry. My writing focuses on art, introspection, fantasy, and commentary on the human spirit, rather than contribute to the cauldron of conversation around this tension. In the end, I love aesthetic ideals….and find that in words, image, meter, and form.
KMD: I’m intrigued by your work as a literary translator, bringing contemporary Greek language poetry to an English speaking audience. Tell us more about your translation projects.
SM: I am working on translating emerging Greek poets from the islands who have never had their poetry translated in English or any other language. My family is from a small island called Kythera, the supposed birthplace of Aphrodite, where there are local poets whom I know and with whom I am working on translations. Greek is a language I learned as a child, with an entirely different music and grammatical structure. The challenge is creating a translation that honors the spirit of the writer, his sound, his tone. And finding the right cradle within the English structure.
KMD: What has translation made possible within your own poetry?
SM: Respect for voice–whether it is the voice of the poem I am writing, which is detached from my own personal voice–or the voice of another writer. Who am I to impose my voice on someone else? I see my role as a sort of carrier for an oracle. A strange liminal place where I must take great responsibility for bringing to life to someone else’s ideas.
KMD: In addition to your achievements as a poet, you also run your own company. What can writers learn from entrepreneurs about the business of art?
SM: Well, I am the C.E.O. of a beauty company, and this is about the fray of dollars and cents, business economics, managing people and processes, submitting to the vagaries and whims of the consumer, the stock market and supply chain. This is a fabric linked to so many touchpoints one has little control over, per se. And it is a game of creating a company out of this storm. Art IS a business, surely, and not an economically generous one. And I tend to be reclusive when focused on my writing, and don’t worry too much what it means as a business. I have immense respect for literary presses who have talented staff who further literacy, and education, and self-expression, and this is an aspect of culture which is exquisite and often overlooked by the general public.
KMD: What else are you working on? What can readers look forward to?
SM: I am working on a second manuscript called PERISHABLE, a themed book around the idea that everything is in a constant state of dying, and renewing itself. That things, people, institutions, light, water, joy, pain….perish. Sensorially, this book equates with watching autumn consume the beauty of summer, and molt into winter. And this idea of constant transformation intrigues me. The paradox is that the world is an organic body in constant movement, and ultimately in suspended stasis.