In the crowded hall of the Kastellorizian association last Saturday evening, several members of the diaspora arrived to celebrate the launch of ‘Kleio and Despina’, the second book of the series “Stories from Megisti, Kastellorizo” written by Michele Kiosoglous and Phillippa Adgemis, and illustrated by Vanessa Gouveia.
During the evening, speeches and sketches revealed to the audience unknown parts of the history of this little island in the Aegean, and how the protagonist (inspired by the “Lady of Ro”), a little girl, defied all odds, to stand up for her country and what she believed in.
As Michele Kiosoglous stated in her speech, “this story is not just about a young girl and a flag. It’s about courage and bravery, about taking chances. It is a story about every man and every woman who have achieved something against all odds. Every family has a story of courage, of defiance, of struggle and hope; and it is our hope that where our story ends, your story begins and that you can start a conversation to ignite that very spirit in the next generation”.
Knowing first-hand, how story-telling can inspire young children, Michele and Phillippa’s adventure to write and publish these books began “using story telling as the tool to pass on messages of culture, language and heritage to the current and next generation living in the diaspora”.
The stories are true to the island, in that the illustrations depict the flora and fauna, the characteristic landmarks found on Kastellorizo, so that children visiting will recognise the places in the story.
The task to publish these books is huge, considering it is funded solely by the two of them.
“We wanted to preserve the integrity of these stories and not change or anglicise the names of the Muses of antiquity, whilst also carefully selecting the illustrations to create the magic which is embodied in the stories. However, if there is a collaborator out there who can support the project’s beauty and essence, then we are open to discussion,” the authors told Neos Kosmos in an interview following the launch.
All that remains is for the book to be translated into Greek, and Michele and Phillippa said that they have already translated their first story, ‘Melpomene and Andonis’, and as soon as the first museum or language school requests the Greek version, they will arrange publication.
The next book in the series ‘Polymnia and Yiorgos’ (or Naughty Yiorgos), which is currently being illustrated, will be launched in 2020.
Justin Mastores, Vice President of the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria, spoke about the book and the importance of preserving our culture through storytelling, and others were there to show their support, including Greek Australian Cultural League President Cathy Alexopoulos, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Maria Dimopoulos, 2019 Kastellorizian of the Year Freda Miriklis, and Fronditha Care President Faye Spiteri-Tsolakis.
READ MORE: Kastellorizo treasures revealed
To obtain copies of the books, visit storiesofmegistikastellorizo.com. Also available for sale are colour me calm post cards for children. The authors are also preparing e-books and dolls.