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Poet Spotlight: Meet Katerina Kampa

by Maria A. Karamitsos   ·  3 weeks ago   ·  

Since April is National Poetry Month, let’s put a poet in the spotlight! Read on to learn more about Greek poet Katerina Kampa!

Poet Spotlight: Katerina Kampa

Katerina Kampa is just 17 years old! Let’s meet her and learn about her new poetry chapbook, Aging Clouds (Paratiritis tis Thrakis, 2024), out now.

Greek Poet Katerina Kampa

April is National Poetry Month, so it’s the perfect time to put a poet in the spotlight! Greek Poet Katerina Kampa was born in Greece, but lives in Chicago. Her mother, Zoe Gavriilidou PhD, a Professor οf Linguistics in the Department of Greek Philology at Democritus University of Thrace, is currently a visiting professor at University of Chicago Center for Hellenic Studies.

Q&A with Katerina Kampa

… On her Greek roots

Where are you from?

I was born in Kavala, in northern Greece, but I grew up in Komotini, a really small town in east Macedonia. 

Does your Greek heritage influence your work? If yes, how?

I wouldn’t say so, because I mainly read and write poetry in English and back in Greece I never really thought about poetry before. However, after I got into poetry my junior year of high school, here in the united States, I started reading and analyzing Greek poetry more, which made me really proud of my heritage. 

… On life and work

When did you come to the States?

On August 12, 2022.

Tell us a little about you. You’re a student. Where do you attend school? What are you studying?

I am a senior at Kenwood Academy high school which is in Hyde Park, on the Southside of Chicago. I really love it here. Everyone was very welcoming to me when I first came to the school despite the fact that I was struggling with English. I got to experience many different cultures that I really enjoyed. I am still in high school, but my dream has always been to be a veterinarian, so I intend to major in that.

… On reading

Who are some of your favorite authors and poets?

If I am being honest, I am very new in poetry, so I mainly read poems from people I know personally, and a few known poets on social media, so I don’t really have one. Now I also don’t really have a favorite author. I read a lot, but I usually don’t stick to one author. If I had to choose one it would be Emily Bronte, since she wrote my favorite book, Wuthering Heights.

What do you like to read?

I am a hopeless romantic, so I definitely love novels. Eighty percent of the books I have read were love-related. I occasionally enjoy any type of mystery or supernatural books.

Poet Spotlight April 2024_Aging Clouds by Katerina Kampa. Image on a fuchsia background of a young girl with dark hair and wearing blue and white sitting on a stack of papers, holding a pen. Sheets of paper fly around her.
Aging Clouds is Katerina Kampas’ new poetry chapbook

… On writing

When did you start writing?

In March of 2023, which was the end of my junior year in high school. 

Why poetry?

I was always really bad at communicating my feelings and was holding everything in. Poetry gave me a way to escape this and finally be able to express how I felt without being afraid of being called “too much” or that I am “exaggerating”. I overthink a lot, and I was always so confused on how I felt and how to talk about it, but whenever I’m writing it’s like my thoughts are unraveling on a piece of paper and a huge weight comes off me. 

Do you write in any other genres?

Currently, I have been writing a love novel, but it’s really just for fun. I don’t think I will ever publish it. 

What do you like to write?

I really don’t have anything specific that I like to write. I always write about whatever comes to mind or about whatever bothers me. I never force myself to write. Most of my poems are about love and self-image because these are the main things that are bothering me at this point of my life, but I am sure that later in life that will change and so will the content of my poems. 

Have you published any other work?

Not really, though I would love to do so very soon. I get great joy knowing that my poetry might be helping people. 

What inspires you?

My grandma and her kindness have always inspired me. She is my role model and who I aspire to be. She is the kindest person in this world and not once have I heard her judge anyone or be mean or cruel. I wish there were more people like her and I definitely want to be like her when I grow up.

What are you trying to say with your poetry?

I want to show people that someone understands them, and they are not alone. I started writing poetry after reading a poem of someone that I go to school with, and I was so shocked on how well I understood him by reading a few words on a piece of paper. I thought that if I started writing people would understand me too. I hope that someone might feel the same way about my poems, and that maybe I can inspire them to start writing and help them express their emotions. 

Greek Poet Katerina Kampa

… On your book

Tell us about your book.

Aging Clouds is a small piece of my mind that I chose to share with the world. My poems are not anywhere near to perfect, but they are my way of sharing my thoughts and expressing my feelings. When I decided to publish it, I never thought about anything, but how it might help others. Helping others every way possible has always been something I focused on in my life, and with Aging Clouds I want to inspire and push people to explore different ways to express how they feel instead of holding it in. Another reason this book is so important to me is because it highlights my growth as a person and my realization of the world. Living in different situations and places has helped me gain a better understanding of the world and I believe some of my poems share this understanding with the reader.

This is a great accomplishment, especially for a young poet. How did it come about?

My mom proposed this to me on a random night. I was hesitant at first because I was scared that people would judge me but I decided that this is a huge opportunity that I would miss simply because I was scared of what people would say. People will talk anyways, so I thought I might as well be judged for something I accomplished instead of something insignificant.

When was it published? 

In early February 2024.

It was published in Greece. Will it be available for sale in the US?

I currently have a few copies in the United States that I can ship out, and I’m hoping that soon copies will be able to be shipped from Greece, straight from the publishing house.

… On the future

What’s next for you?

I really have no idea! My main goal is to become a veterinarian and I am prepared to do everything possible to achieve that. Poetry is like my cane, it honestly keeps me focused and helps me heal, and I want to keep doing it for as long as possible. Other than that, I don’t know what life will bring my way. I stress about it often but whatever happens is simply what is going to happen.

Anything else you’d like to share/something people should know?

I play the guitar and write songs. I also really love fishing and rock climbing.

Greek Poet Katerina Kampa

Hope you enjoyed learning more about Katerina Kampa. And if you have the opportunity, do pick up a copy of Aging Clouds. It’s been a long time since I was 17, and now as the mother of a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old, this collection reminded me of what it was like: straddling that line of childhood and adulthood, feeling the uncertainty, wondering what your place is in the world, dreaming, and trying to figure out what’s next. Not only is her poetry honest and pure, but it’s also refreshing. I hope we will see more writing from this talented young poet.

Follow Katerina on Instagram

Read more:

Poet Spotlight: Meet Greek-American Marigo J. Stathis

Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos is a journalist, author, and poet. She's the founder & former publisher/editor of WindyCity Greek magazine and former associate editor & senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Maria currently pens a literary column for NEO magazine and also contributes to Greek City Times and TripFiction. Her work has been published in The Magic of Us-A Moms Who Write Poetry Anthology, The Pen Poetry Magazine, Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal, Highland Park Poetry, GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, KPHTH magazine, XPAT Athens, and more. Maria has contributed to two books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes and The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook. She's currently working on her 1st novel.

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