Poetry Part I
Poetry Part II
Poetry Part III
Blues Articles and Reviews
Speeches and Lectures
Cover story interview profile in Marshwood Vale magazine, October, 2011:
Jim's documentary film about Ethiopia is now available on YouTube, at
Sixteen of Jim's songs, demos and recordings now on YouTube! Search for:
Find even more (21 audio tracks) on
or go direct to
Jim's new book "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History" (in the series Landscapes of the Imagination) is available from Signal Books, Oxford (US edition OUP, USA)
ATHENS NEWS (2-8 April, 2010):
"If evidence is required that Greece can enchant, enthral and engage, then Briton Jim Potts' book is just that...
What he produces over the course of 280 pages is a wonderful and inspiring miscellany of all things Ionian and Epirot...it makes accessible a rich cultural depository to the discerning and cultured tourist- and resident...The Ionian Islands and Epirus takes a refreshing look at the islands and mountains of western Greece...
This little gem of a book will provide the discerning traveller with something grossly lacking from other tourist guides: a real cultural history with which he or she can contextualise the wonderful experience that is the Ionian Islands and Epirus."
Damian Mac Con UIadh.
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (11 February, 2011)
"...this engaging and scholarly volume is the outcome....Potts wisely links the fortunes of the islands with those of the mainland...this is an important book that will kindle new research and thinking on the political and literary history of the region."
THE CORFIOT (April, 2010):
"This is possibly the most important book about our region to be published in recent years".
TO ZAGORI MAS (August/September 2011)
Jim contributed a chapter on bilateral cultural relations ("Truth Will Triumph") to a book which was edited by David Wills, "Greece and Britain since 1945" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010). This book explores the transformation and varying fortunes of Anglo-Greek relations since 1945. The focus is on the perceptions and attitudes shown by British and Greek writers, audiences, and organisations. The book contains contributions from leading academics, journalists, novelists, and public servants. Other contributing authors include Peter Mackridge, David Connolly and Alexandra Moschovi. It can be ordered by email at email@example.com
"Dorset Voices" (co-editor, Roving Press, 2012)
"The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands" (two chapters, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ed Anthony Hirst, 2012)
Cover story, Marshwood Vale magazine, October 2011
"Dorset Lives" feature on Frank Kibblewhite and The Sundial Press, Dorset Life, December 2011
Jim has also written a play for radio, "Go Tell the King", set in Greece during the first year of the Military Junta. He writes a regular blog, "Corfu Blues", at http://corfublues.blogspot.com
"The Ionian Inspires" literary event, Groucho Club, London, November 12, 2008; introducing an evening with Dr. Lee Durrell and Louis de Bernieres (right side), Mr. Herakles Valvis, Secretary General of EOT, the National Tourist Organisation of Greece and Mr Sotirios Vosdou, Secretary General of the Region of the Ionian Islands (left side).
Speech at Municipal Reception for "Cleaning Up the Mediterranean" Symposium, with relief sculptural plaques of Gerald and Lawrence Durrell by Corfiot sculptress, Eva Caridi. See John Waller's article about the Symposium and Corfu's Natura sites in The Corfiot , November 2007, pages 16 and 17,
Lord Byron was here! October 12-13, 1809, Monastery of Prophitis Ilias, Zitsa, Epirus.
SOME PUBLICATIONS AND PROJECTS:
"Under Dorset's Skin" an arts feature about the poet Louisa Adjoa Parker, The Marshwood Vale Magazine, March 2011 (issue 144).
Two articles on Dorset, Dorset Life, January and February, 2011
"Mandouki", two page feature on a Corfu suburb, in The Corfiot, November/December 2009.
"Representing Britain in Times
of Hostilities", chapter in 'Literatures of War', edited by
Richard Pine and Eve Patten, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Aug 2008
Isbn13: 9781847186379, Isbn: 1-84718-637-8.
In this multi-disciplinary collection of essays on the manifestations of war in poetry, fiction, drama, music and documentaries, scholars and practitioners from an international context describe the transformation of the war experience into chronicles of hope and despair, from Herodotus up to the present day.
"Durrell School of Corfu", three page article with photographs (Proper Home Cyprus/Greece, issue 41, January/February 2008)
"Czechoslovakia, Secret Journals of the Poets' Revolution" (an extract, Ars Interpres, Issue 8-9, September 2007)
Forthcoming (?) in Ars Interpres International Journal of Poetry, Translation and Art, Issue 12: Song, "The Cowrie Shell".
Song lyrics for CD "Neuromantics, An Exploration of Love", music by Raul Scacchi (launched 23 May, 2009)
CD "Corfu Bluesman": compilation (20 tracks) from "On the Memphis Road!" and "Death Valley Blues".
For news of "On the Memphis Road!" Jim's first blues CD release, click on Music/Songs below! Positive reviews in Germany's "Rockin' Fifties" magazine December 2004 and Music Maker (UK) June/July 2005. Also reviewed by Rockabilly Europe in March 2006, by The BlackCat, see http://www.rockabillyeurope.com/?reviews/jimpotts.htm and by Branimir Lokner in Serbia http://www.barikada.com/bb_lokner/ostala_scena06/2006-05-09_jim_potts.php We get around! Here's an extract in Serbian:
"Materijal je snimljen 7. jula 2004. godine, snimatelj je bio James Lott, a Jim je sve otpevao sam uz pratnju gitare i na nekim mestima harmonike. Na svoj nacin ovaj 60-to godisnjak pun zivotne energije ispituje prvu dekadu "Sun" istorije uspevsi da postigne autenticnost ondasnjeg vremena i ubedljivost emotivnog i izvodjackog pristupa. Dok preslusavate materijal ne mozete se oteti utisku da Jim zapravo nije savremenik Perkinsa, Hookera ili Burneta. "On The Memphis Road!" jos jednom podseca na period kada se u proslom veku stvarala muzicka istorija, a Jim Potts je pokazao da njegovo "vidjenje" ume da bude blisko autenticnom izvodjenju njegovih uzora." Branimir Lokner.
REVIEW: Rockboard, http://www.rockaround.org/Rockboard/anmeldelser.html
Arild also wrote on 18 September, 2006,
Arild's full review, in Norwegian, was posted 30 August 2006).
In summary, he writes:
On the Memphis Road is first and foremost a blues record. Even Thats All Right, Mystery Train and Movie Magg are much more blues than rock n roll the way Jim interprets them. There are fine versions of blues classics like I cant be satisfied, How many more years and 3 o clock Blues.. You can tell that this is the music that Jim really loves.
Also available on www.tradmusic.net where it has been a featured CD (scroll down to Independent Artists)
Jim Potts, Corfu Blues:
"Corfu Blues", a selection of Jim Potts' poetry and prose about Greece and the Balkans (c. 208 pages), Ars Interpres Publications, Stockholm, April 2006. BUY NOW
ONLINE, from the publisher, using PayPal, from http://arsint.com/book_j_p.html
Reviews to date: Athens News, 21 July 2006 ("the book makes a positive contribution towards an understanding of modern Greece"); Kathimerini English Edition, 22 June 2006 ("He has internalised vast knowledge of Greek culture and here offers a compact but varied expression of it"); review of reading and book launch, Gotlands Tidningar newspaper, Gotland, 27 June 2006: Jim Potts varvar anekdoter med hoglosning, humor med filosofiska betraktelse, politik och karlek....
"The whole is informed by an invigorating enthusiasm, a level of scholarship which commands respect and a degree of empathy with another culture which offers insights to us all". David Marler, in New Horizons, British Council, Summer 2006.
"This book is a personal anthology, drawn from forty years of musing on the Greek scene. Poetry and song lyrics occupy the first half.....The second half is part memoir (Corfu journals, an account through oral history of the wartime Zagori), part academic (an interesting paper on the relationship of Seferis and Durrell during the Cypriot independence struggle, others on the ambivalence of Byron's philhellenism and the meaning of philotimo) and part journalistic (an interview with the Cypriot film-maker Michael Cacoyannis).." Paul Watkins, Editor, The Anglo-Hellenic Review, No 34, Autumn 2006
"His style is clipped, direct and thought-provoking, sometime classical in phrase, sometimes contemporary, and often sprinkled with a hint of dry humour too! Collectively, his work perfectly captures the colour of the Greek islands and their people." Chrissie Flint in, Proper Home GREECE, October 2006.
O Filelevtheros, Nicosia, Cyprus, 27 July 2006, by Niki Marangou (extract from review, in translation):
"The Hellenist, Jim Potts; From the Rebetika to Lord Byron"..... "His poems impressed me with their unpretentiousness and directness, qualities found very rarely these days, when so often the meaning and essence of a poem is drowned in unrestrained displays of literary erudition".
ΑΥΤΕΣ τις μέρες κυκλοφόρησε ένα βιβλίο του με τίτλο CORFU BLUES, ARS INTERPRES Publications. Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή ποιημάτων, τραγουδιών, συνεντεύξεων, άρθρων που έχουν σχέση με την Ελλάδα, στην οποία έζησε πολλά χρόνια και στην οποία επέλεξε να κατοικήσει. Τα θέματα ποικίλλουν, από ρεμπέτικα μέχρι τον Λόρδο Βύρωνα, από τους συνταγματάρχες μέχρι τα Ζαγόρια και την Κέρκυρα. Επιπλέον ασχολείται με τις αγγλοελληνικές σχέσεις, αμφισβητούμενες θέσεις, και ρίχνει νέο φως σε άγνωστες πτυχές της νεότερης ιστορίας της Ελλάδας. Μου έκαναν εντύπωση τα ποιήματά του. Έχουν μια απλότητα και μια αμεσότητα που σπάνια συναντά πια κανείς στις μέρες μας, όπου συχνά βουλιάζει το νόημα του ποιήματος σε μια ακατάσχετη λογιοσύνη…
ΝΙΚΗ ΜΑΡΑΓΚΟΥ firstname.lastname@example.org
ATHENS NEWS REVIEW, 21 July 2006:
JIM Potts, author of a book of poetry and assorted prose articles entitled Corfu Blues, is sensitive not just about the way in which foreigners portray their adopted country but about how they really feel towards it. No doubt the fact that he worked for the British Council for 35 years in many different locations around the world (he spent five years in Thessaloniki) has made him acutely aware not just of how best to promote a culture overseas but also of the innate prejudices so often present in the British "gaze".
In particular, he has reflected on the way in which people of British descent have written about Greece and in one essay he argues that Lord Byron has much to answer for. Quoting from Byron's private letters, he shows how his personal views about Greece and the Greeks sharply diverged from the public persona of the philhellene who penned Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. In a surprising parallel, he goes on to compare Byron's private views with the UK tabloid press articles in 2001 about Greek prison conditions and the Greek judicial system, prompted by the arrest of a group of British plane-spotters. "Is there not a continuity of condescending and disparaging discourse and political geography, of attitude and stereotypical representation of Greece?"
Potts' first went to Corfu in 1967 to teach English. He would marry Maria, a Corfiot, and despite his sojourns in other countries, it was Greece, especially its music, that had captivated him and to which he would keep returning. Corfu Blues is a pot-pourri (or even Potts-pourri) of literary output dating from 1967 to 2005, mostly but not exclusively focused on Greece and the Balkans, presented without narrative links and containing just a brief introduction that addresses the author's concern about how his own "gaze" might be interpreted: "I do not wish to place myself within a colonial or post-colonial literary tradition," Potts says.
And having made this appeal, he lets his work - or at least this selection of his work - speak for itself. The first half of the book consists of poetry loosely divided up by place of origin and a short section of songs (Potts composes for the guitar). The second half is a cornucopia of articles and interviews which include, for instance, an account of the sparring between George Seferis, Lawrence Durrell and Maurice Cardiff (director of the British Council) in Cyprus between 1953-6, an exploration of the untranslatable notion of "philotimo", a review of Greek music in general and Epirot folk music in particular, and a wide-ranging interview from 1978 with film director Michael Cacoyannis (Zorba the Greek).
What emerges from Corfu Blues is an often passionate, sometimes witty, sometimes meditative record of one man's engagement with the people and culture of his adopted country. Of course, he is using the language and idioms of his roots to express himself but what resonates strongly in his work is Potts' openness to other influences and his ability to immerse himself in Greek culture per se, as an enthusiast.
Take, for example, his appreciation of Greek music, so central to the book. He remembers in verse the relative unknowns - people he met like Nicholas Ninas, the folk clarinettist from Zagori, Bataria the "Fiddler of Romiosyni" or Iannis Xenakis who lost an eye and half his face thanks to a British shell - as well as the famous. In an essay written in 2005 for Music Maker, Potts speaks about how moved he had been by the death of Sotiria Bellou on 27 August 1997. She was one of his two favourite singers (the other is Aliki Kayaloglou). At the time, he had written a poem for her. Bellou had died reviled, destitute, abandoned by her friends, a broken woman "peddling her own cassettes/In Kolonaki Square". Not even her last wish, to be buried alongside fellow singer Vassilis Tsitsanis, was granted. "'Everything's a lie', she sang - / Then left; through one of life's two doors."
The verse is mostly narrative or descriptive and Potts' experiments with form, rhyme, and metre sometimes favour improvisation over polish. Emotions are palpable, whether he be writing about bombs exploding, the ruination of Corfu (though it is still the place he wants to be above all) or, at a more personal level, about his own nomadic lifestyle. He is also particularly fond of - and successful with - the haiku form (and provides translations of some by George Seferis).
Potts deliberately draws himself away from the centre of Corfu Blues. Through this distillation of creative output, we have a chance to share in his observations and feelings about things that have happened and people he has met over more than three decades. But he offers himself as a lightening rod rather than a target, inviting us to look not at him but rather at what he sees; in other words, it is an offer to share his studiedly non-colonial/non-post-colonial gaze. Modest in scope, the book makes a positive contribution towards an understanding of modern Greece.
* 'Corfu Blues' by Jim Potts (ISBN 9197598011) is published by Ars
Interpres Publications and is available in bookstores on Corfu and through
ATHENS NEWS , 21/07/2006, page: A29
Article code: C13192A291
Jim gave two readings at the International Poetry Festival, Stockholm 5-9 October, 2006, see
Five Poems, Ars Interpres, An International Journal of Poetry, Translation & Art, issue 4 & 5 (October 2005) . Go to http://arsint.com/current.html and scroll down to Jim Potts, Five Poems
"Swedish Reflections, from Beowulf to Bergman", edited by Judith Black and Jim Potts, Arcadia, London, 2003
Review by Sean French, in The Independent, 12 July, 2003
One of this book's editors, Judith Black, of the Swedish Institute in Stockholm, also edited an earlier work called Sweden-Britain: a thousand years of friendship. Yeah, right. So deep was the friendship that in 1018 the British paid the Scandinavians more than £80,000 not to kill them. My mother is Swedish, my English grandmother's family came from Cambridgeshire, and I'm writing this review in Suffolk. If I'd been here in 1009 I could have walked up the road and witnessed one of my ancestors, in the service of the Viking chief, Svein Forkbeard, burning the land on which another of my ancestors would have been a very lowly peasant.
There may well have been any number of cultural exchanges organised by the Swedish Institute, and this new anthology commemorates them with some dutiful poems by writers-in-residence. But at its enjoyable best, Swedish Reflections demonstrates that not all that much has changed. When Laurence Olivier brought Ingmar Bergman to the National Theatre in 1970 to direct Maggie Smith in Hedda Gabler, he didn't exactly rape and pillage. In fact, in his autobiography he wrote movingly and perceptively about Olivier's theatrical genius. But the experience was traumatic for Bergman because - and there is only one possible word for it - of its sheer Englishness. Which, from a Swedish perspective, means: chaotic, drunken, dirty. Bergman stayed in Olivier's flat and was appalled by the grubby sofas, the torn wallpaper, the lip-prints on the glasses.
The most lyrical account of Sweden in the book is Bergman's conclusion to his English stay: "I left London, which I had hated with every fibre in my body. It was a light, May evening in Stockholm. I stood down by the North Bridge looking at the fishermen in their boats and their green scoop nets. A brass band was playing in Kungstradgarden. I had never seen such beautiful women. The air was clear and easy to breathe, the cherry blossom fragrance and an astringent chill rose from the rushing water."
Anybody who has experienced the long golden Swedish summer evening will know what he means. I once caught a train in Gothenburg and, as we travelled north, the glowing evening turned into bright morning with no night in between. It was magical and intoxicating. No wonder Swedish people go a bit mad with it in the summer.
But what you get in summer, you pay for in winter. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote sniffily in 1795 that "the severity of the long Swedish winter tends to render the people sluggish". Wollstonecraft was frankly appalled by Sweden. She detected a voluptuousness in the nature - all those rocks and forests and lakes - which she thought partly responsible for "the total want of chastity in the lower class of women". Expressed in a rather different way, 150 years later all this would be part of Sweden's attraction.
Even at its closest, the relationship between Britain and Sweden has been about difference. Much of the best writing here, by Malcolm Bradbury, Michael Frayn, Evelyn Waugh, is about the comedy of mutual misunderstanding. The greatest encounter is when Shaw calls on Strindberg in Stockholm in 1908. Strindberg called his actors back from holiday to stage a special performance of Miss Julie for an audience of one. A beautiful story, but as Michael Holroyd writes here, it was a meeting of opposites: "Shaw's tragedy in the need to suppress such things; Strindberg's in the need to re-enact them".
The relationship with Sweden is more like a troubled love affair than friendship. The attractions are obvious: the lakes, the blondes, the space, the clear light that lasts all summer. There is darkness as well, endless forests, with trolls in them. And, in October and November, it just rains and rains.
Entefktirio, Two Poems in Greek translation by Sakis Serefas, go to http://genesis.ee.auth.gr/dimakis/Enteykt/64/17.html
"Greek Music; celebrating the Centenary of the birth of Markos Vamvakaris", Music Maker, issue 86, July/August 2005
"The Blues, Jim Potts traces its roots", Music Maker, issue 86, July/August 2005 (first in a series of feature articles on the Blues); Down in the Dumps- or Losing the Blues (August/September 2005); Izzy Young & Bob Dylan, Beat Poetry & the Blues (October-November, 2005); 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll, 100 Years of Blues (August-September 2005) ; Blues & Booze, Alcohol & Rock 'n' Roll (October/November 2005); Mississippi Blues (December-January 2006); Dark Was the Night ,Two Eighteenth Century British Hymns and the Blues (February-March 2006); The Blues as Autobiography and the Use of Autobiography in Song-Writing (March-April 2006); Blues Discoveries (on Louise Hoffsten and Knut Reiersrud) (June-July, 2006): Remembering Howlin' Wolf (October-November 2006).
Music Maker, August/September 2005, Book Review of “Dear Companion, Appalachian Traditional Songs and Singers from the Cecil Sharp Collection”, EFDSS (The English Folk Dance& Song Society), London, 2004; "Walking a Blues Road" by Samuel Charters (Marion Boyars, 2004) , Music Maker 90, April/May 2006; "The Hurdy Gurdy Man, the Autobiography of Donovan" by Donovan Leitch (Century, 2005), June-July 2006.
CD Reviews of Blues and Country Harp, Maqams from Iraq, Music of the Maale (Southern Ethiopia), Music Maker, issue 86, July/August 2005; Talking Guitar Blues, Lonnie Donegan (October/November 2005); Flamenco music, February/March 2006; BB King, "Mr Blues/Confessin' the Blues" (April/May 2006); Louise Hoffsten, "From Linköping to Memphis"(June/July 2006); Bluegrass CDs (Red Allen CDs, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Rough Guide to Bluegrass, Can't You Hear Me Callin' Box Set), October/November 2006.
A selection of seventeen poems in Greek translation by Professor Panos Karagiorgos in "Epirotika Grammata", the annual anthology of the Society of Writers of Epirus, Ioannina, December 2004, pages 567-579.
Two poems translated by Panos Karagiorgos, with an introduction by Frixos Tziovas, in "To Zagori Mas", January 2005
Two articles in "To Zagori Mas", one on Vitsa (March 2006) and another on Oral History (June 2006), in Greek translations by Sofia Vlavianou.
Illustrated article on Vitsa , "A Home and Mountain Retreat" in "Property & Home, GREECE" (June-July 2006)
Illustrated article comparing the islands of Corfu and Gotland, "A Choice`of Two Islands", The Proper Home GREECE (August-September 2006)
"Albanian Workers in Greece", illustrated article, The Proper Home GREECE (October 2006)
"Entertaining Visitors", "On Greek Views and Landscapes", "London or Corfu? London & Corfu" in The Proper Home GREECE ( issues 32, 34, 36) 2007
An article on Epirot Folk-Music in "The Anglo-Hellenic Review" ( May 2006).
Four articles on Corfu Artists in "The Corfiot" (May, June, July 2006). Article on Mandouki (Nov-Dec 2009).
An article with poems, in three instalments, in "The Echo of Paxos" (December 2004, January 2005, February 2005; translated by Sofia Vlavianou).
"Mutual Interests", Swedish Book Review, 2004:2, pp 31-35 (published 2005) Go to www.swedishbookreview.com/article-2004-2-potts.asp
"Nya kulturella projekt i byn Vitsa i Zagori" Hellenika,Nr 111-112, Stockholm, March 2005
"George Crabbe", Wiltshire Life, June 2005; "Alfred Williams", Wiltshire Life, July 2005, "Inspired by Wiltshire" (Coleridge, Bowles, Sydney, Betjeman), Wiltshire Life, August 2005; "Stephen Duck", Wiltshire Life, September 2005, Geoffrey Grigson Centenary, Wiltshire Life, January 2006, part of an ongoing series of feature articles on writers with Wiltshire associations. Past features: William Barnes in Mere; George Herbert at Bemerton. Latest article: William Golding, Wiltshire Life, April 2006 .
Two articles on Dorset, Dorset Life, January and February, 2011
"London Walks" (see www.liveinlondon.net and click on "Read Some Editorial") & "A Time Machine in London", Live in London, November/December 2005. "Kenwood House and Park", "Women in the Arts in London: Nell Gwynne" and "A Theatrical Time Machine", February/March 2006, and concert review, Jazz Nights, Cafe in the Crypt, St Martin-In- The- Field; "London in 2050" , May/July; Book Review, Roger McGough's autobiography, "Said and Done" (Century), May/July. Forthcoming: "A Foggy Day".
For a portrait sketch of Jim by Swedish poet Henry Denander, go to www.henrydenander.com/docs/JimPotts_right.htm
Poetry Part I
Poetry Part II
Poetry Part III
Blues Articles and Reviews
Speeches and Lectures