‘NOSTOS and ALGOS–A REVIEW’ by Cloe Koutsoubelis

nostos and algos cover

Awareness is the title of the first poem of this collection and not without reason.

The poet selects this poem as the first one but one wonders: awareness for what? Is it because this poetry collection is subject of the natural laws of decay, like tree leaves that turn yellow and fall at some moment leaving behind them the gaping void that lies under every poetry collection behind every creative form? Or is it awareness because, as the last verses claim, nothing stays forever?

The collection is dedicated to his parents who lived their last years in the village and the second poem of the book “Old Couple” is at that exact place with images such, olives, feta cheese, wine, salad under the grape vine, monologue of loneliness, epilogue of their lives. Agony for a son away in a foreign land but expectation, longing, and the everyday events transcend into moments of happiness and laughter, you forgot to make the salad.

What is the poet’s primer? Prime roll plays the sound of the letter t from the word tenderness. When one doesn’t open himself to love one has no reason for living. The slow spark that reverses the equation and turns into a wick and becomes a conflagration, or a night flower that turns into the kaleidoscope of the Universe are the underlying forces of this book. Eros and at the same time Death that lurk behind everything; the unstoppable law of the cosmos that controls the people’s lives and emotions.

I too grieve,
that night has passed by so fast

the poet says in Night Flower:
Heracleitos’ philosophy of the ever changing world, the continuous movement of things and people like a river that forever evolves and renews this is the backbone of the book Nostos and Algos.

For the poet the microcosm and the macrocosm are but a rose, a thicket of trees in the afternoon, the mound of a woman, a flock of sparrows, a bed-sheet that wrapped the body of the beloved, the simple events of everyday life, the brushing of teeth, the washing the face of a beloved person become a mystery into which he delves with willingness and humbleness.

Yet the poet is afraid that the mystery of these simple everyday events may be violated by the sacrilegious people of the cement city who make dust of every emotion and refinement, by the hierodules and pimps who turn every ideology into a profit thus flattening everything in their path.

For the poet everything vanishes, everything flows through his fingers; we arrange our date with Death at every moment, everything except of a smile that is whole, it can’t be divided, it can’t be analyzed, it is the moment that boils and bubbles.

Fate is predetermined. Our date with Death occurs every day. We betray ourselves and others, we yearn for things that belong to others, we move between high and low tide in currents that take us forth and back we fight at every moment the feeling of this futile life and the void.

Then, there must be
      another time
      there must be
      it must
the poet says in Tides

Deep philosophical, existential collection is this book by Manolis. The miracle passes and vanishes, the silent acceptance and the effort to understand, is but the vague oaring in a foggy day.

In the poems Turret, Heroes, Sunrise, the poet is sarcastic to the leadership that sends men to war like lambs to the slaughterhouse, for the sake of the generals, the bishops, the flags and the business of war.

In his last four poems, Lens, Craving, Branches and Insistence toward the end of each poem the words and you said — appear as if the poet talks to someone next to him and I can see no other way to end this beautiful book but the phrase of the last poem:

Again I shall try to transform
      the cricket’s song
      into a shiver.

~ Cloe Koutsoubelis, ENEKEN, No 33, Salonica, Greece, Fall-Winter 2014

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