You are here

Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos with Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton Web Banner

Join us for a live conversation with Steven Heighton, discussing Reaching Mithymna, hosted by Rhonda Douglas. Presented in partnership with the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival and Library and Archives Canada.

You can attend via Zoom (please register to receive the link) or by Facebook Live (link will be made available the week before).

In the fall of 2015, Steven Heighton—winner of the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and four gold National Magazine Awards—made an overnight decision to travel to the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis in Greece and enlist as a volunteer. He arrived on the isle of Lesvos with a duffel bag and a dubious grasp of Greek, his mother’s native tongue, and worked on the landing beaches and in OXY—a jerrybuilt, ad hoc transit camp providing simple meals, dry clothes, and a brief rest to refugees after their crossing from Turkey. In a town deserted by the tourists that had been its lifeblood, Heighton—alongside the exhausted locals and under-equipped international aid workers—found himself thrown into emergency roles for which he was woefully unqualified.

From the brief reprieves of volunteer-refugee soccer matches to the riots of Camp Moria, Reaching Mithymna is a firsthand account of the crisis and an engaged exploration of the borders that divide us and the ties that bind.

We encourage our audiences to read widely, and shop (or borrow) locally. Click here to see the author's books in the library catalogue. A limited number of signed books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.