My life-long relationship with Greece, especially Crete, began in 1970 when I went to Athens as a PhD student and stayed at the British School of Archaeology. I was working on ancient Greek poetry and tragedy, not something you hold in your hands, but the archaeologists kindly invited me to work on an excavation of the Royal Road at Knossos in Crete.
Apart from learning a little about Minoan archaeology there, I also learned modern Greek from the Cretan workmen, who taught me Cretan songs and dances too. Ever since, I have lived on and off in Greece and in Crete, have many dear friends there, and visit regularly.
One track I chose on Desert Island Discs in 2009 was a Cretan folksong. Another was Melina Merkouri singing ‘The Boys from Peiraeus’.Some poems in my first collection Summer Snowand 2014 collection on the Middle East, Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth are set in Crete.
I love giving talks and readings in Crete and Greece, most recently in Heraklion, Rethymnon University and the Synagogue of Etz Hayyim in Chania, where I’ve given poetry workshops. The place, and its extraordinary story, are the inspiration for my novel Daughters of the Labyrinth .