Sofia Manouki (29), master student of Religion, Conflict and Globalization has been appointed the new poet-in-residence at the University of Groningen for academic year 2018-2019. The jury was impressed by her bold and powerful poems: ‘The verses seem to jump off the paper and keep us thinking, long after one has finished reading them.’ Sofia Manouki is the UG’s nineteenth poet-in-residence and the first international student in this position. She will write her poems in English.
Sofia Manouki lives in Athens and is of mixed race – half Greek and half Japanese -, so she is bilingual from an early age. While studying at the American college of Greece, she had the opportunity to pursue her interest in American and British literature and realize that vast literary wealth can be unlocked by learning foreign languages . She started writing prose and was able to win the first price for short-stories in English in high school magazine competition twice. Only this year she discovered she wanted to write poetry. ‘It’s a pity it took me this long, because poetry is the quickest, most direct way to strike someone with your truth.’
In 2013, Manouki got a Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Athens. After trying to get a legal career in post crisis Greece, she decided to extend her professional and academic skills and discovered the interdisciplinary master program Religion, Conflict and Globalization in Groningen. ‘An interesting and important program in helping us understand today’s global dynamics.’ In 2018-2019, Sofia Manouki will be studying and living in Groningen. As a poet-in-residence, she will write about her personal experiences in her Groningen year. She hopes her poetry will reach beyond the language barrier and cultural differences.
The jury, consisting of Jeanette den Toonder, lecturer European languages and director of the Centre for Canadian Studies, singer-songwriter Marlene Bakker and the current in-house poet Rachel Raetzer, was impressed by the freshness and originality of Manouki’s poetry. ‘She is not afraid to choose her own style and let go of conventions. Sofia clearly does not shy away from either critique or self-reflection, which gives the jury the faith in her professional development as a University Poet.’
Sofia Manouki made her début as poet-in-residence on Monday 3 September during the opening of the Academic Year in the Martinikerk. She recited her poem ‘University’, in which she expresses the disappointment of her life and career until now and the fresh start in Groningen. She will write poems for the UG website throughout the next academic year and be invited to read her poetry at numerous events.
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