“We are not here to inaugurate cement but to celebrate a meeting between human beings and voices”. These were the words spoken by Peter Curman on 26 September 1996 at the inauguration of the International Writers and Translators’ Centre of Rhodes, an independent Centre open to all writers and translators and based on the principles of free speech, mutual understanding and acceptance.

Three years earlier, Peter, then as President of the Swedish Writers’ Union, visited Greece at the invitation of the Cabinet Minister, Mikis Theodorakis, to discuss with a group of Swedish intellectuals and their Greek counterparts ways of cooperating in future projects. It was there, in Delphi, that Peter formed the idea of establishing a literary center on Rhodes, the island that he loved so much from the time of his youth as a tour guide in the early sixties. And from which time he established lifelong friendships.

Peter was the driving force of this endeavor to create an international writers and translators’ center to complement the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators founded in Visby, Gotland, Sweden in 1992. He was able to convey the significance of such a centre to the Mayor of Rhodes, a man of vision himself; he assembled an international working committee for the realization of the project and he managed to persuade UNESCO to place the centre under its auspices. This initiative benefited Rhodes in many ways including the twinning of Gotland and Rhodes which opened many horizons.

Since the establishment of the Centre, many seminars, workshops, conferences, poetry readings, book presentations, local school programs and other events have been organized as well as the publication of so many works all of which have enriched the cultural life of Rhodes. The Centre became a beacon radiating from Rhodes, drawing writers and translators from all parts of the world to its doorstep.
And it all began with Peter’s dream.

But, Peter’s support for Rhodes goes farther back in time. During the Greek military dictatorship, Peter left Rhodes, returning to Sweden. There, with several of his compatriots, he worked for the restoration of democracy in Greece. In the summer of 1974 after a seven-year absence, Peter, together with many other Swedish people, took the initiative to charter a plane in order to be one of the first to land on Rhodes after the fall of the junta in an expression of solidarity with the people of Rhodes.

Such love and devotion will never be forgotten.

Lee Minaides

Mer om Peter Curman finns att läsa här.