Did Greek mystery poet make an appearance?
by Matthew Hays, Globe and Mail, 26 October 2000
A cross-section of Montreal's literary community gathered at a downtown Montreal Greek restaurant on Tuesday night, with one question on their minds: would the mysterious Greek poet, Andreas Karavis, attend?
It might seem obvious that the poet being honoured for the launch of his latest collection of poems, Saracen Island, would be present. But with Karavis's very existence -- including, apparently, Karavis's publishers -- were entirely certain of whether or not he would arrive.
A man claiming to be Karavis did attend for approximately 20 minutes. However, he did not grant interviews. Wearing a fisherman's cap, he consumed several glasses of wine, spoke only Greek and then left the event.
There are those among Montreal's literati who have suggested that Karavis is the alter-ego of poet David Solway, who was definitely in attendance on Tuesday night. (He appeared simultaneously with the man who claimed to be Karavis.) When asked about allegations of a hoax, Solway said he was relieved that Karavis had finally made a personal appearance. "If he did not exist," Solway remarked, "I would have had to invent him."
A number of prominent members of Montreal's literary community were in attendance, including editor and poet Michael Harris, author Julie Keith and Governor-General's Award-winning poet Robert Melancon.
Karavis gained national attention after Solway profiled him in Books In Canada last October. Karavis, apparently a Greek fisherman who lives on a small Greek island with his wife, has since had poems published in The Atlantic Monthly and The Antigonish Review.
Yiorgos Chouliaras, press attaché for the Greek embassy in Ottawa said the evening filled him with national pride, suggesting it served as testimony to "the great connection between Greek and Canadian writers." He also confirmed that some are now proposing Karavis be the official poet laureate for the 2004 Olympic Games, to be held in Athens.
Neither Greek embassy officials nor representatives from Véhicule Press, Karavis's publisher, could confirm which Montreal hotel Karavis was staying in.