Yannis Ritsos-Poems, Selected books, Volume II

ΦΙΛΟΚΤΗΤΗΣ//PHILOCTETES

by Yannis Ritsos/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis

Κι ήτανε κιόλας σα ν’ ακούγαμε τα μυστικά πελέκια μες στο δάσος
να κόβουν ξύλα. Ακούγαμε το μέγα γδούπο, όταν σωριάζονταν
ένα δέντρο στο χώμα, και τη σιωπή τρομαγμένη
να κρύβεται πίσω απ’ τους ώμους μας. Κι ήταν σα να ’βλεπα κιόλας
τον Δούρειο Ίππο, κούφιον, θεόρατο, να λάμπει επικίνδυνος
μες στην αστροφεγγιά, θρησκευτικός σχεδόν, ενώ η σκιά του
εκτεινόταν μυθική στα τείχη. Κι ένιωθα κιόλας
σα να βρισκόμουν μες στο κούφωμα του αλόγου, μαζί με τους άλλους,
ολομόναχος, σε άβολη στάση, μέσα στο λαιμό του αλόγου,
και να κοιτάζω με τ’ άδεια του μάτια τη γυάλινη νύχτα,
σαν κρεμασμένος μες στο χάος, γνωρίζοντας
πως η χαίτη που ανέμιζε πάνω απ’ τον αυχένα μου
δεν ήταν δική μου, — ούτε κι η νίκη, φυσικά. Ωστόσο ετοιμαζόμουνα
για το τεράστιο, μάταιο άλμα μέσα στο άγνωστο.

Έτσι, σ’ αυτή τη στάση, εκεί ψηλά, μέσα στο σανιδένιο λαρύγγι του αλόγου,
θα ’νιωθα καταβροχθισμένος, κι όμως ζωντανός, να εποπτεύω
τ’ αντίπαλα στρατόπεδα, τις φωτιές, τα καράβια, τ’ αστέρια,
όλο το οικείο, το τρομερό, τ’ αναρίθμητο θαύμα —όπως λένε— του κόσμου,
σα να ’μαι μπουκιά σταματημένη στο λαρύγγι του απείρου και ταυτόχρονα μια γέφυρα
πάνω από δυο, το ίδιο απόκρημνες κι άγνωστες, όχθες —
μια γέφυρα ψεύτικη, βέβαια, από ξύλο και πικρή πανουργία.
(Από κει πάνω, θαρρώ, μες σ’ έναν τέτοιο εφιάλτη,
αγνάντεψα πρώτη φορά την πραϋντική λάμψη των όπλων σου).


And it was as if we were already hearing the secret axes

in the forest cutting wood. We could hear the big thump

when a tree fell on the ground and silence, in fear,

hiding behind our shoulders. And it was as if I was seeing

the Trojan Horse gleaming in the starlight, huge, hollow,

dangerous, almost religious, while its shadow spread

on the walls like a fable. And I felt as if I was already

in the cavity of the Horse along with the others, in an

awkward position in the horse’s neck, all alone, seeing

the crystal night through its empty eyes

as if I was hanging over the void, and knowing that

it wasn’t my nape that waved but the horse’s mane,

nor was the victory, of course. Yet I prepared myself

for the endless, futile leap into the unknown.

In this position, high above, in the plank-lined throat

of the horse, I truly felt swallowed, and yet alive and

I observed the enemy camp, the fires, the ships, the stars

all that familiar miracle, as it was called, the horrible,

incalculable miracle of the world, as if I was a morsel

of food stuck in the throat of infinity and at the same time

a bridge over two embankments equally unknown and

precipitous, a false bridge, of course, made of wood

              and bitter cunningness.  

(from that high vantage position, I think, in such

a nightmare I first noticed the soothing brilliance

             of your weapons.)

Nostos and Algos//Powrot I Bol

Με ιδιαίτερη χαρά έμαθα ότι το βιβλίο ποίησης μου Νόστος και Άλγος, σε μετάφραση στην Πολωνική από τους Mirek Grudzien και Gosia Zurecka, μόλις εκδόθηκε στην πόλη Rzeszow από τους εκδότες Podkarpacki Institut. Ευχαριστώ πολύ τους μεταφραστές και τον εκδότη για την καλαίσθητη έκδοση

I’m pleased to inform all my friends that my poetry book Nostos and Algos, translated in Polish by Mirek Grudzien and Gosia Zurecka was just released in the city of Rzeszow in Poland by the publishers Podkarpacki Institut. Thank you to both the translators and the publisher for the beautiful release.

Θεωρώ το Νόστος και Άλγος σαν το πιο πετυχυμένο μου βιβλίο ποίησης αφού μεταφράστηκε σε 6 γλώσσες κι εκδόθηκε σε 6 χώρες. Στα ελληνικά με τίτλο Φυλλορροές, από τις εκδόσεις Ένεκεν στη Θεσσαλονίκη.

I consider Nostos and Algos my most successful poetry book since it has been translated into 6 different languages and published in six different countries of the world.

‘Neo-Hellene Poets an Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry 1750-2018. A Review’ by P.W. Bridgman

Important aspects of so many of our cultural institutions in North America and Western Europe can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. We were taught that inescapable truth in our school classrooms and we have read it in our history books. And yet, for some reason, we in the West have been less mindful of modern Greek history and modern Greek literature in particular. There may have been a brief brush with Seferis during a second- or third-year poetry course at university, yes. And one perhaps recalls a fleeting encounter with Cavafy in an anthology of modern world literature in translation. Perhaps. But most of us are woefully ignorant of the great wealth of poetry that has proliferated in Greece since the mid-1700s. Manolis’ book of translations of the works of many, many diverse poetic voices from the modern era in Greece thus constitutes a great gift. He has given us—handily assembled between the two covers of Neo-Hellene Poets: An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018—a ready resource to which we may now turn in order to make up that glaring lacuna that exists in our cultural education. Poems that are orderly and formal, and poems that are unruly and unbounded; works steeped in tradition and works that are wildly innovative; verse that is serious and sentimental, and verse that is droll and irreverent; it’s all there. The modern Greek poetic tapestry is multi-coloured, artful and highly textured and it deserves far more attention that it has gotten to date from scholars and from other members of Western societies who turn to poetry for pleasure and inspiration but cannot read or speak Greek. We must be thankful to Manolis for opening a door that has been effectively closed for three centuries. At last, English speakers and readers can feast at a long-overlooked table, a table well laden with many exotic literary delights. Mr. Waiter, would you please bring us the wine list?

P.W. Bridgman, author, poet.

View the book: Neo-Hellene Poets – An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry 1750-2018’ by Manolis Aligizakis

‘Yannis Ritsos – the poet’ a comment by John Wall Barger

This new translation of Yannis Ritsos (volume II) is another triumph for Manolis Aligizakis, the foremost Canadian translator of Greek poetry. He has undertaken an important project: unearthing the many poems of the wonderful Yannis Ritsos for a new audience. As Chryssa Nikolakis says in the introduction to this volume, “Ritsos’ poetry is purely humane and existential, but also deeply lyrical. It speaks boldly about the revolution, about the adventures of the social vision, about love and the beauty of life— about everything human— in an unparalleled, universal tongue.” Aligizakis is particularly deft in capturing the dense mythic language of Ritsos’ long poems, “Shape of Absence,” “Ismene,” “Phaedra,” and others. But my favorite part of this book might be the elegantly translated short poems from “Exercises.” Listen to this: “The wet hat of the sailor was tossed / in the waves / like rye bread thrown away / while men were hungry. // It was the war.” (“Brief Story”). And it’s a gorgeous book physically, with illustrations from classic painters, and introductions to help the reader unpack some of the more difficult contexts.

John Wall Barger, poet, lecturer.

View this book here:
‘YANNIS RITSOS: POEMS’ Selected Books Vol II – Translated by Manolis Aligizakis
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‘Longing and Ritsos’ a book review by Ilya Tourtidis

Reading Manolis Aligizakis’s translation of Ritsos’s poetry (Volume ll), I am struck by the undertow of longing that ebbs through Ritsos’s poems. There seems to be this heroic attitude of waiting for fulfilment, shadowing the events and circumstances Ritsos has chosen to focus his creative gaze upon. He seems to balance the frailty, anguish, and vulnerability he sees at the very heart of human nature with the defiant prospect of hope, and with the implied possibility of future wholeness. Though he never hesitates to decry and condemn the suffering caused by adversity and injustice, I think he modulates it as an inscrutable attribute whose redemptive meaning circles all the way back to the mythic forces inherent in creation. Perhaps like Job in the whirlwind, he accommodates the darkness of fate not only as a tragic flaw, but also as a divine element in the longing that saves.

Dramatically, I can imagine Ritsos sitting on a chair, center stage, against the back drop of a sun rising above the ocean, facing his audience— all those mortal men, women, children, animals and mythical aspects of an evolving self that sparked his awareness— then grinning defiantly, concludes with these final words: You are my advent. You are what I carry through the void. You are who I am.

This impressive and insightful translation by an equally creative and prolific poet, will continue to give voice to the silence we inhabit.

Ilya Tourtidis, poet.

‘YANNIS RITSOS: POEMS’ Selected Books Vol II – Translated by Manolis Aligizakis
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From The Iliad to The Irishman — SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

The Irishman is in many ways Scorsese’s saddest film. Its central tragic conflict centers on people who, while engaged in violent and heady power struggles throughout their lives, prove wholly incapable of managing basic human relationships and living through the utter ordinariness of life. Scorsese lays the blame for Hoffa’s downfall upon his haughty and […]

via From The Iliad to The Irishman — SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

‘Katerina Anghelaki Rooke – Selected Poems’ translated by Manolis Aligizakis

Paperback 6/9
978-1-926763-52-1
$23.95
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Translated & Compiled by Manolis Aligizakis
Published by Libros Libertad & Ekstasis Editions, 2019

Katerina Anghelaki Rooke

‘Her poetry, explicitly erotic and passionate, defines her sensual relationship with the world, such a poet of passion she is, though over time Katerina Anghelaki Rooke became more thoughtful, paying attention to memory and to the chthonian and heavenly sense of a world that never loses its primeval powers. Equally dedicated is her intensity when she deals with her place of birth with its fluidity and music that transcend her poetry thus making it timeless and eternal; Katerina’s poetry remains eternally dedicated to a natural element as well as to the beauty and the pain life creates, the committee decided unanimously when they awarded her with the highest prize of the Hellenic Letters.

Chrysa Nikolaki, Theeologist, Poet
Writer, Literary critic
(Master of Arts, Hellenic Open University)

 

About the translator

Emmanuel Aligizakis, (Manolis) is a Cretan-Canadian poet and author. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Master’s for the Arts in Literature. He emigrated to Vancouver in 1973, where he worked as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker, and studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, Jordan, Serbia and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian, Ukrainian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbian, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries.
He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books.
His translation George Seferis: Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece. In September 2017 he was awarded the First Poetry Prize of the Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival, in Craiova, Romania.

Red in Black

Manolis’ vibrant and radiant poems are infused by a powerful yet subtle music that resonates with the reader who revels for the vitality of the sensuous motion of the language he uses to present images structured in a mixture of Mediterranean and Canadian formats. Poems that make the reader discover the poet’s cosmos as it expands from the microcosm to the universal. Images which declare that everything vanishes as it flows through people’s fingers, yet from all these some become eternal in their wholeness, like the child’s smile which cannot be stained by life’s conditioning, the child’s smile that cannot be blemished by the adulthood’s guilt and banal everyday littleness. Manolis’ poetry stands out among his contemporaries as this poet descends from the ancient modes and exemplary structures from which he draws and which he transposes to us in his personal poetic way.

 

Emmanuel Aligizakis (Manolis) is a Cretan-Canadian poet and author. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Master’s for the Arts in Literature. Born in the village of Kolibari on the island of Crete in 1947, he moved with his family at a young age to essaloniki and then to Athens, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from the Panteion University of Athens. Aer graduation, he served in the armed forces for two years and emigrated to Vancouver in 1973, where he worked as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker, and studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His poetry has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian, Ukrainian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbian, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. His translation of George Seferis: Collected Poemswas shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards the highest literary recognition of Greece. In September 2017 he was awarded the First Poetry Prize of the Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival, in Craiova, Romania.

Available for purchase online via paypal at http://www.ekstasiseditions.com Contact Ekstasis for details or to arrange appearances, events or media opportunities. For further information: Richard Olafson or Carol Sokoloff phone & fax: (250) 385-3378 web: http://www.ekstasiseditions.com e-mail:ekstasis@islandnet.com

 

NEO-HELLENE POETS An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry 1750-2018//translated by Manolis Aligizakis

Neo-Hellene Poets_Feb8

 

Sadly, while many serious readers in Canada will have been exposed to the ancients, and to the works of some, high-profile modernists—like Cafavy, Seferis and, perhaps, even Ritsos —most modern Greek poetry has remained largely out of reach for English-speaking monoglots. But that is changing quickly, chiefly as the result of the efforts of one man.
Enter Manolis Aligizakis, a Greek-Canadian poet of considerable lyrical achievements
of his own. Quite apart from having published many volumes of his own much-celebrated poems, Manolis has, for years now, devoted himself to preparing high-quality and nuanced translations of the works of modern Greek poets. He has to this point given us his take mainly on the above-mentioned and better-known writers (for which we are all grateful).
Now, however, he has graduated to a truly Heraclean undertaking, one that opens the door for English-speaking readers to the work of many highly respected Greek poets who, it is to be regretted, are essentially unknown outside their own country. Neo-Hellene Poets: An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018 is a skeleton key to the poems of 60 Greek moderns whose writings, we can now easily see, deserve a wider readership. The deft and skilled translations that make up the Anthology are helpfully supplemented by brief but informative biographical profiles of the subject poets, putting them on the map for Englishs peaking readers in a way that has never been done before.
In an article published in The Guardian on March 1st 2018, Daniel Hahn made a compelling case for better recognition for translators, noting that they “are in the vanguard of literary change,” in part because they tend to bring together readers and writers whose paths would otherwise never cross. Manolis has rendered a great service—both to Greek poets whose voices have seldom been heard in the West and to English-speaking readers who hunger for more Mediterranean seasoning from the land of Homer to excite and enliven their literary palates. Bravo!

~ P.W. Bridgman, author of Standing at an Angle to My Age.

 

Move over, Heracles. This is an unparalleled poetic accomplishment requiring great strength and endurance.

~ Alan Twigg, B.C. BookWorld

 

http://www.libroslibertad.com

THE QUEST, a novel

The Quest cover

The Quest is the story about a young boy’s dream of someday returning to his family’s
home on the island of Crete. Pericles grew up listening to his grandfather tell stories of
the Greek myths and life in the family’s former home. His family had come to live in
Romania before Pericles was born but he is determined that someday he will go back to
Crete himself.
By the time Pericles is old enough to embark on his quest, Romania is in Communist
hands and it is impossible to leave the country. Determined, Pericles travels on foot, alone
through the mountains. Eventually he arrives in Greece, but life there isn’t what he
expected. The country is under a dictatorship. The people of Greece are impoverished
and disillusioned. Pericles makes his way by boat to Crete, but life there isn’t as carefree
as his grandfather had described. The people are suspicious and wary of strangers. What
is most surprising is the shocking revelation that he learns about his grandfather.
Disappointed but undeterred, Pericles leaves Crete, setting off on a new quest to make a
better life for himself.
Today, the stories of refugees crossing borders in search of a better, safer life make
Pericles’ quest all too familiar.

http://www.ekstasiseditions.com