‘IMPRESSIONS FROM ROMANIA’ by Manolis Aligizakis the 2017 Mihai Eminescu Academy Award Winner


Romania impressed me in an unprecedented way. Although this year’s trip was my second one, I was still amazed by the depth of culture the citizens of Craiova displayed. One day was dedicated to their most famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi whose ensemble of three works have deeply stayed with me: Brancusi’s works The Endless Column, The Gate of the Kiss, and The Silent Table which constitute an ensemble. The Endless Column symbolizes the concept of infinity and the infinite sacrifice of the Romanian soldiers; it stacks 17 rhomboidal modules, with a half-unit at the top. The incomplete top unit is thought to be the element that expresses the concept of the infinite. The Gate of the Kiss features a kiss motif on the gate pillars. It symbolizes the transition to another life that occurs through The Gate of Kiss. The Table of Silence is a circular stone table surrounded by twelve hourglass-seats, which symbolize time. The Table of Silence represents the last dinner before the Romanian men go to war.


Something else that amazed me in Romania where the people are 90 % Orthodox Christians: Their Christian Church of Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, in front of the City Hall depicts icons of saints not only inside the building but outside as well. But what intrigued me the most was that besides the Christian saints they also had icons for the ancient Greek writers, philosophers, law givers, such as Socrates, Plutarch, Thoukididis, Solon, Pythagoras, and others.


Another noteworthy impression was when I met a 7 year boy who in one week created the caricatures of 39 poets and poetesses who participated in this year’s Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival, held in Craiova. I told his mother, with the help of the translator, that her son one day will become a great Romanian.

Manolis Aligizakis visited Romania in August-September 2017 to participate in the Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival where he won the FIRST POETRY PRIZE for 2017 awarded by the Mihai Eminescu Academy in Craiova, Romania..’ More is at the link below:
manolis-algizakis-wins-the-first-poetry-prize-for-2017

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‘NOSTOS and ALGOS–A REVIEW’ by Cloe Koutsoubelis

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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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‘Eroticism in the Poetry of Manolis Aligizakis’ by Alexandra Bakonika

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Poet Manolis Aligizakis has familiarized himself with the tragedy by seeing life through the multi-faceted lens of observation and by living experiences that gave him the ability to perceive first-hand the injustice, exploitation, greediness and the various expressions of violence. Unquestionably the ugliness of this world saddens him like a wound that doesn’t heal. When he feels uncertain with himself and divided in two we find in his poetry a messianic sense that leads him to wish to change the world and make it better free of all ugliness and lawlessness. However he has no illusion that idealism, visions and civility are things easily accomplished. If great gestures and practical action retreat before the opposition, at least what one can achieve through messianic ideas is the beauty through poetry that brings harmony, enjoyment and ultimately truth.

Can Manolis channel beauty as easily as he describes it in his verse? “an old time leader/like an anointed and pious/a musical instrument of free flowing innocence/ready to speak with words that relieve the pain and free the spirit?” Yes and his main tool is his first hand experience of the power of Eros. His psychological makeup draws and transmits authenticity and felicity based on his adoration of and being adored by feminine figures sensual and provocative exposing him into an ecstatic transcendence through their lusting bodies and their devoted deep love and understanding. It’s obvious he finds his contention in being passionately in love with his beloved.

He doesn’t hide that before he was born he wanted to become “a festival song/a bird’s flutter/an evening vesper/a simple sigh/that will scar the lips of his beloved.” If he feels powerless before the inconceivable and undefined Fate, he declares a woman’s embrace invites him and he likes to give in to her passion: “obscure and vague circle/forever indeterminable/and this, the command/and this, the obedience/and this, the orgasm/ and this, the Eros/and this is you.” He feels that being favored by Eros he diffuses his fiery passion with light that fills his erotic verses. As a gallant defender of lust and sensuality and of the true emotions of love he hands down delight and exhilaration of the soul.

Idealism as well as pragmatism, messianism but also tradition in the languor of the senses, love affairs devoted to the ephemeral satisfaction and erotic drunkenness compose the variations of his vast poetic content. Having the maturity of an accomplished poet and the ability to craft evocative imagery in a personal way the poet introduces us in what constitutes the most brilliant expression of his innermost thoughts and beliefs opposite the world of his time and age.

In his book “Ubermensch” his eroticism is somewhat subdued although is part of Manolis’ imagery along with his messianism which is the main stigma Manolis introduces us to in his very first poem.

….truly we accepted it: our God was dead.

Buried him yesterday afternoon with no songs,
no paeans, nor lamentations and we felt a lot lighter. ….
while fear, I would say, was hidden deep in our hearts. ….
and in an eyrie we filled our chalice with courage
and we mailed it to the four corners of the universe
and promised never to be trapped again in the idiocy of a system.

The Andian condor we declared heir of the flesh.
The wind and the rain we proclaimed our catharsis.

Evoe, oh, free elements, evoe.

A big part of the western philosophy since the end of Medieval Times doubted the existence of God although that doubt was subdued concealed because of the fear of the church. Only Nietzsche dared stand up and declare the death of God and in its place he proposed the Ubermensch-Superman. Manolis’ poetic vision in in his book Ubermensch is based upon this daring mind of the German philosopher. However who is Ubermensch? What values does he promote for the tormented world? These questions find their answers in this poetry collection which is a way of initiation for encouragement and exaltation. Ubermensch is the great initiate who guides man onto a long and tiring process that will free his soul from the clutches of dogmas thus hoping to contribute to his happiness. He evangelizes man’s rebirth and renewal through gaining free will which is the basis of every spiritual lifting in this earthly life, the only one we have, while the metaphysical hope of the Christian after life is negated.

Free will leads to search, doubt, continuous quest for knowledge, to the brotherhood of men for a more just and more sunlit world, fundamentally it leads to an effort to make the conditions of life better based on self- knowledge and virtue. On the other hand earthly enjoyment shouldn’t be put aside. The Apollonian spirit has to walk parallel to the Dionysian revelry. Dancing, music, poetry possess a central role in the philosophical exaltation Ubermensch proposes. He prompts us to enjoy the delightful aspect of life, to taste it with all our senses. Drunkenness through joy empowers the spirit to endure the arduous path toward philosophy and virtue.

Manolis Algizakis has no illusions that the gaining of free will and spirit is an easy path to follow, it does demand spiritual strength and as an introduction to this poetry book he declares quite clearly:

“For those who dare melt into the concept of freedom and for an infinitesimal fraction of time they can claim: freedom I am. This book is not for the faint-hearted. Dare to read.”

For this poet, the initiates and initiated, the rope walkers and the Ubermenschen resemble a tree that grows and stares the ever brilliant sun while their limbs root deep into the abyss. They have to follow this inescapable duality in order to succeed in the battle of man against the beast.

Jun 14, 2016 – ENEKEN

Greek version first published in Thessaloniki, Greece; English version published at the Libros Libertad web site.

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