GEORGE SEFERIS-Collected Poems//REVIEW

George Seferis’ Collected Poems

Sep 26, 2013

Christopher Doda

George Seferis, Collected Poems
Surrey: Libros Libertad, 2012.

For a poet of his stature, there are remark­ably few Eng­lish trans­la­tions of George Seferis’s work. A giant of Greek poetry and 20th Cen­tury Euro­pean poetry in gen­eral, Seferis (1900–1971) inherited the old­est sur­viv­ing lan­guage of the West and brought its poetry into the mod­ern world. He wrote dur­ing a long career as a diplo­mat with post­ings in Turkey, Alba­nia, around the Mid­dle East, Iraq, and the United King­dom, and picked up numer­ous acco­lades, along with the Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture in 1963. Since his death, his fame has grown to the point where lines from his “Mythi­s­torema” were used in the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. In spite of this, there has been only one (that I know of) selected, pre­pared with the poet’s assis­tance, by Rex Warner in 1960 and then a com­plete poems by Edmund Kee­ley and Philip Sher­rard released in var­i­ous edi­tions between 1967 and 1995. Throw­ing his hat into the ring is British Columbia’s Mano­lis with Col­lected Poems, which includes a crit­i­cal intro­duc­tion, a gen­er­ous amount of the verse, a par­tial bib­li­og­ra­phy, end­notes, and the text of Seferis’s Nobel speech. One of Seferis’s most strik­ing lines is from “In the Man­ner of George Seferis”: “Wherever I travel Greece wounds me,” mean­ing both the nation and its long his­tory. Not sur­pris­ingly, places and fig­ures from ancient Greece pop­u­late his work: Agamem­non, Helen, Astyanax, Androm­eda, and Orestes all make appear­ances, but he also wrote often from the point of view of ordi­nary sol­diers, cit­i­zens and refugees caught in the hor­ror of cir­cum­stance, wit­nesses to his­tory but with­out any con­trol over their des­tiny, those who “knew that the islands were beau­ti­ful / some­where, per­haps around here, where we grope / a bit lower or slightly higher / a very tiny space.” I don’t know the Greek lan­guage and won’t pre­tend that I do but I can say that Manolis’s ren­der­ings are more col­lo­quial and less for­mal com­pared to ear­lier trans­la­tions. Con­sider his ver­sion of this stanza from “The Sen­tence to Obliv­ion”:

And what­ever hap­pened had the seren­ity of what you see before you
they had the same seren­ity because there wasn’t any soul left in us to con­tem­plate
other than the crav­ing to incise some marks on the stones
that have now touched the bot­tom below mem­ory.

And com­pare it with Kee­ley and Sher­rard:

And what then hap­pened had the same tran­quil­lity as what you see before you
the same tran­quil­lity because there wasn’t a soul left for us to con­sider
except the power for carv­ing a few signs on the stones
which now have reached the depths below mem­ory.

Not rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent, but Manolis’s ver­sion is less rhyth­mic and, one might argue, less poetic than the other. Over the years, Kee­ley and Sherrard’s trans­la­tions have emerged as defin­i­tive, par­tially due to lack of com­pe­ti­tion. This vol­ume is unlikely to chal­lenge them for top spot but vari­ety is nec­es­sary for the longevity of the poetry. (As an aside, I rarely men­tion this in reviews but the num­ber of typos, mis­placed punc­tu­a­tion, and con­fu­sion between Cana­dian and US spelling in this book is truly irk­some. And the low-res­o­lu­tion image of a sun­rise over water through ruined ancient columns on the cover would be bet­ter suited to an issue of The Watch­tower.) Hav­ing already released vol­umes of Con­stan­tine Cavafy and Yan­nis Rit­sos, Mano­lis seems to be work­ing his way through the 20th Cen­tury Greek canon. I won­der if there might be an Odysseus Elytis or Angelos Sike­lianos in the near future.
~ Christo­pher Doda is the author of two poetry col­lec­tions, Among Ruins and Aes­thet­ics Lesson. He is cur­rently work­ing on a book of glosas based on heavy metal lyrics.

ΥΠΕΡΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ–ΚΡΙΤΙΚΗ

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ΥΠΕΡΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ–κριτική

ΠΟΙΗΣΗ – EKSTASIS EDITIONS

Ο «Υπεράνθρωπος» του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη είναι από τα πιο δύσκολα και φιλοσοφημένα έργα που έχω συναντήσει. Και πώς να μην είναι άλλωστε, εφόσον ταυτίζεται με τον Υπεράνθρωπο του Νίτσε, τόσο σε πλοκή όσο και σε νοήματα. Ο ποιητής «παίζει» με τις συμβάσεις καθώς σχετίζει τον Υπεράνθρωπο, αφενός μεν με την πραγματική διάσταση που του δίνει ο Γερμανός φιλόσοφος, αφετέρου δε με την παρερμηνεία που του έδωσαν οι Γερμανοί εθνοσοσιαλιστές, με τα τραγικά αποτελέσματα που ακολούθησαν για όλη την ανθρωπότητα.

Πριν λοιπόν περιγράψουμε τον Υπεράνθρωπο του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη, ας δούμε εν συντομία τι προσδοκούσε ο Νίτσε με αυτό του το σύγγραμμα. Με πολύ απλά λόγια ο Νίτσε έθετε τον άνθρωπο αντιμέτωπο με τις ευθύνες του και τις δυνατότητές του, που αν τις χειριζόταν ορθά, θα μπορούσε να υπερπηδήσει κάδε εμπόδιο. Με κύριο μοχλό τη σωστή χρήση της λογικής και του ενστίκτου θα μπορέσει να ζήσει σε μια κοινωνία ισότητας και ελευθερίας, όπου ο καθένας θα είναι ο κύριος του εαυτού του. Βέβαια ο Νίτσε δεν περιέγραψε την ηθική διάσταση του Υπεράνθρωπου, καθώς ήρθε να αναπληρώσει (όπως ισχυρίζεται ο συγγραφέας) το κενό της εξουσίας και της Θεϊκής ανυπαρξίας. Ο Υπεράνθρωπος λοιπόν λυτρωτής, υπέρμαχος της ηθικής αλλά και λίγο ανεξέλεγκτος, όσον αφορά τα απώτερα σχέδιά του για τον κόσμο, που επίσης παραμένουν ασαφή…

Το δίγλωσσο αυτό βιβλίο (Ελληνικά-Αγγλικά) χωρίζεται σε τρεις ενότητες και είναι γραμμένο με ένα στυλ που θυμίζει περισσότερο πεζογράφημα, παρά ποίηση. Στο πρώτο μέρος, την Άλικη Αυγή, ο άνθρωπος ανεξαρτητοποιημένος από τις δεσμεύσεις της θρησκείας, αποφασίζει να βαδίσει βασισμένος στις δικές του δυνάμεις και να απαλλαγεί από τα σαγόνια του συστήματος. Μέσα σε μια καταρρέουσα κοινωνία και σε μια οικογένεια που χάνει την αρχέγονη σημασία της, το άτομο οφείλει να αποδεχτεί την ανθρώπινη ματαιότητα. Και αν καταφέρει να το επιτύχει αυτό, τότε θα αναγνωρίσει την αξία των απλών πραγμάτων, της φύσης και των αθώων στιγμών της παιδικής του ηλικίας. Την ιδιαίτερη βαρύτητα που μπορεί να έχει μια λέξη, μια φιλοφρόνηση, μια αξιέπαινη πράξη. Ο ανυπεράσπιστος, μπροστά στο θάνατο, άνθρωπος, νωχελικά περίμενε την «ανάστασή» του, χωρίς καμία προσπάθεια να αποβάλει το ναρκισσισμό και την ανευθυνότητα από το «είναι» του. Και έτσι, μακριά απ’ τον Θεό του και την πίστη του, οδηγήθηκε στον όλεθρο και την καταστροφή. Με ορμητήριο την άγνοια θεώρησε πως μπορούσε να διαπρέψει και να μεγαλουργήσει.

Πώς λοιπόν ο άνθρωπος θ’ αλλάξει προς το καλύτερο; Με αυτογνωσία, με σημασία στα απλά καθημερινά πράγματα, με σωστό υπολογισμό των θετικών και αρνητικών παραμέτρων, που επηρεάζουν τη ζωή του. Σ’ αυτό το σημείο προαναγγέλλεται και η άφιξη του Υπεράνθρωπου στους ανθρώπους, που η πίστη και η αφοσίωση στο πρόσωπό του, πάλι πήγαζε από την κούφια αυτοσυνειδησία τους. Προσπαθώντας να του δείξουν ότι είναι γνώστες και ανθεκτικοί στα δύσκολα, υποτάχθηκαν αμέσως στα κηρύγματά του. Και εκείνος, ο Υπεράνθρωπος – τύραννος (όπως τον αποκαλεί ο ποιητής) άρπαξε την ευκαιρία να ελέγξει πλήρως τις φοβισμένες συνειδήσεις τους. Έξυπνος, λαοπλάνος, ετοιμόλογος, ήταν ο μόνος που αντιλαμβανόταν τα ανθρώπινα λάθη και ο μόνος που μπορούσε να τα υποτάξει. Χωρίς να τιμωρεί και να ζητάει ανταλλάγματα, μαθημένος να συγχωρεί, δίδασκε την αρετή και την ισορροπία. Η πρώτη ενότητα κλείνει με τη δήλωση υποταγής από τους ανθρώπους στο πρόσωπό του, γεγονός που τον ικανοποιούσε απόλυτα…

Στο δεύτερο μέρος, το Πύρινο Μεσημέρι, ο Υπεράνθρωπος αρχίζει πλέον να εκφράζεται και να «κηρύττει» την ιδεολογία του. Αρχίζει δηλαδή να δείχνει το αληθινό του πρόσωπο. Ο ποιητής εναλλάσσει μια σειρά ανθρώπων μπροστά από το οπτικό πεδίο του Υπεράνθρωπου και των πιστών του, αφήνοντάς τον να ξεδιπλώσει τη φιλοσοφία του για τον κόσμο. Ανάμεσα σ’ αυτούς που συναντούν, ένας ζητιάνος, ένας τσιγκούνης γέρος, ένας γελωτοποιός, ένας ξεπεσμένος βασιλιάς…

Ο Υπεράνθρωπος, γνωρίζοντας καλά τα ανθρώπινα πάθη, κηρύττει τα πιστεύω του και εκφράζει τις προτιμήσεις του. Του αρέσουν, για παράδειγμα, όσοι ζουν χωρίς νόημα και στόχους, όσοι περιφρονούν τα πάντα, όσοι δεν θυσιάζονται για τίποτα, όσοι με τις πράξεις τους τον φέρνουν πιο κοντά στην κυριαρχία, όσοι συγκεντρώνουν γη και χρήμα, ώστε κάποτε να τα δρέψει εκείνος, όσοι προσποιούνται πως δεν φοβούνται, όσοι κυνηγούν μια ανέφικτη αρετή, όσοι κουβαλούν για πάντα τις πληγές μέσα τους, όσοι χρησιμοποιούν τη Θεϊκή οργή για να λύσουν τα προβλήματά τους, όσοι γενικά με τις αποφάσεις και τις πράξεις τους οδηγούνται στην καταστροφή. Και όλα αυτά που του «αρέσουν», ίπτανται πάνω από τα κεφάλια των πιστών του. Αυτών που, χωρίς θρησκεία πλέον, έρχονται αντιμέτωποι με το χάος που οι ίδιοι δημιούργησαν στον κόσμο. Αυτών που αφαίρεσαν τη σοφία από τη σκέψη τους και τον έβαλαν «επιπόλαια» στα σπίτια τους. Αυτών που ήταν ονειροπόλοι και αυτάρεσκοι, μοναχικοί και υπερόπτες. Αυτών που ξέχασαν από πού προήλθαν και αθώοι έπεσαν στα νύχια του νέου ηγέτη. Μα η αμέριστη χαρά τους για εκείνον, που θα άλλαζε τον κόσμο, καταχωνιάστηκε γρήγορα, όταν αντιλήφθηκαν πως όλα γύρω καταστρέφονταν και πως ξανά το ψέμα κυριαρχούσε. Τελικά αντιλήφθηκαν πως και πάλι εκείνοι πολεμούσαν τον ίδιο τους τον εαυτό συνεργώντας στη δημιουργία της κόλασης και στην ενδυνάμωση του Υπεράνθρωπου.

Στο τρίτο και τελευταίο μέρος, το Φλογερό Δείλι, γίνεται ο απολογισμός των πεπραγμένων από τη συμβίωση κοντά στον Υπεράνθρωπο. Οι άνθρωποι στράφηκαν να μισήσουν τους πάντες και έγιναν γεφύρι για περάσει εκείνος από πάνω τους και να πετύχει τους στόχους του. Έμειναν γυμνοί και είδαν τα πάντα να κυριεύονται από την απληστία και τη διάλυση. Είδαν ξανά έναν κόσμο να μην έχει σκοπό να αλλάξει και να ακολουθεί κίβδηλους ηγέτες που μοιράζουν ψεύτικες υποσχέσεις.

Η τελευταία περιήγηση με τον Υπεράνθρωπο πραγματοποιείται μπροστά από συγκεκριμένους ανθρώπους, που επιλέγονται κυρίως λόγω της ιδιότητάς τους. Ένας Έπαρχος, ένας νεκροθάφτης, ένας δάσκαλος, ένας ζωγράφος, ένας Στρατηγός, ένας ποιητής, ένα αγγειοπλάστης, ένας χορευτής. Κάποιοι πραγματικοί Υπεράνθρωποι γι’ αυτά που πετυχαίνουν με τα έργα και τις ικανότητές τους και κάποιοι ανίκανοι να γίνουν Υπεράνθρωποι λόγω των αδυναμιών τους.

Ο ποιητής Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης “τεστάρει” ανθρώπινες αντοχές και όρια. Υποδεικνύει νοήματα, αφήνοντας τον αναγνώστη να προβληματιστεί και, γιατί όχι, να αφυπνιστεί. Ο καθένας μπορεί να γίνει Υπεράνθρωπος στον τομέα του αρκεί να πιστέψει στις δικές του δυνάμεις και δεξιότητες. Ακόμα και οι οπαδοί “του δικού του” Υπεράνθρωπου, στο τέλος, αναβαπτισμένοι από όσα βίωσαν και είδαν, αποφάσισαν να ξυπνήσουν και να μην ξαναγίνουν θύματα του συστήματος. Ο ποιητής τονίζει πως είναι πολύ μικρές οι αποστάσεις που χωρίζουν τα αντιθετικά δίπολα. Η αλήθεια από το ψέμα, η πίστη από την αθεΐα, η εμπιστοσύνη από την καχυποψία, η ζωή από τον θάνατο. “Όλα” είμαστε εμείς οι ίδιοι, αρκεί να κατανοήσουμε το δικό μας αληθινό “εγώ” και ανάλογα να το χρησιμοποιήσουμε. Άρα Υπεράνθρωπος μπορεί να είναι ο καθένας μας που παλεύει για το κάτι παραπάνω με όλες του τις δυνάμεις, αλλά και κάποιος που παίρνει (αδικαιολόγητα) δύναμη από την απραξία μας και μας οδηγεί σε λάθος μονοπάτια (παράδειγμα γερμανικού εθνικοσοσιαλισμού).

Κλείνοντας, θέλω να δηλώσω, πως απ’ τη στιγμή που έπιασα στα χέρια μου αυτό το βιβλίο, κατάλαβα πως ήρθα αντιμέτωπος με ένα πραγματικά μεγαλειώδες έργο. Και γι’ αυτό οφείλω να ευχαριστήσω μέσα από την καρδιά μου τον δημιουργό του για την εμπιστοσύνη του. Ο Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης, Έλληνας κάτοικος του Καναδά, αποδεικνύει πως η ελληνική λογοτεχνική δημιουργία του εξωτερικού, βρίσκεται σε υψηλότατα επίπεδα…

 

Δείγμα γραφής:

 

Επωδός

 

Εμείς οι ηγέτες κι εμείς που ακολουθούμε

οι τυφλοί φονιάδες και τα τυφλά θύματα

 

Εγώ ο άθεος κι εγώ ο ευλαβής

ο πλούσιος και ο αποθαρρυμένος

 

Εμείς οι εγωϊστές κι εμείς οι ταπεινοί

οι σύμμαχοι και οι αντίπαλοι

 

Εγώ η γνώση κι εγώ η άγνοια

ο μεγαλοπρεπής κι ο άθλιος

 

Εμείς οι ονειροπόλοι εμείς κι οι ονειρομάντες

οι αιώνεια περιπλανώμενοι και οι οικόσιτοι

 

Εγώ το σπουδαίο σύμφωνο εγώ και το φωνήεν

ο αχανής ωκεανός και το κρυφό ακρογιάλι

 

Εμείς οι πρίγκιπες κι εμείς οι επαίτες

οι μισαλλόδοξοι κι οι αλτρουϊστές

 

Εγώ ο ήρωας κι εγώ ο προδότης

ο ερπόμενος κι ο αετός

 

Εμείς τα πρόβατα εμείς και τα λιοντάρια

οι κοινωνικοί κι οι ασκητές

 

Εγώ το ελεύθερο πνεύμα κι εγώ ο φανατικός

ο ορθοστατών κι ο σκούληκας

 

Εμείς οι ανθρωποκεντρικοί και τ’ ανθρωποειδή

οι αυταρχικοί κι οι μαριονέττες

 

Εγώ του Θεού παιδί και συγγενής διαβόλου

ο επίμοχθος εργάτης κι ο τεμπέλης

 

Εμείς οι μύστες κι εμείς οι μυημένοι

εμείς οι σχοινοβάτες κι εμείς οι Υπεράνθρωποι.

 

 

 

 

 

Yannis Ritsos-A Review

rits

Yannis Ritsos Poems–Selected Books

Translated by Manolis

Edited by Apryl Leaf

LibrosLibertad, Surrey BC

 

Review by Amy Henry

A careful hand is needed to translate the poems of Yannis Ritsos, and Manolis is the ideal poet to undertake such an enormous task.  Born in Crete, Manolis’s youth was intermingled with the poetry of Ritsos.   Once a young man moved by the Theodorakis version of Epitaphios, he’s now a successful poet in his own right who is still moved to tears hearing the refrains of those notes from half a century ago.  His Greek heritage, with its knowledge of the terrain, people, history and cultural themes, makes his translation all the more true to what Ritsos intended.  Having visited the very places of which Ritsos wrote, he knows how the light and sea shift, and how Ritsos imagined those changes as being a temperament and personality of the Greece itself.

The parallels in their lives are uncanny: when Ritsos was imprisoned, Manolis’ father also was imprisoned on false charges.  Both men dealt with the forces of dictators and censorship, and experienced the cruel and unreasoning forces of those times.  In fact, they even lived for a time in the same neighborhood.  In his foreword to Poems, Manolis relates that he viewed him as a comrade, one whose “work resonated with our intense passion for our motherland and also in our veracity and strong-willed quest to find justice for all Greeks.”

In Poems, Manolis chose to honor Ritsos first by not just picking and choosing a few titles to translate, although that might have been far easier.  Instead, he undertook the complex task of translating fifteen entire books of Ritsos work-an endeavor that took years of meticulous research and patience.  It should be noted that along with the translation, edited by Apryl Leaf, that he also includes a significant Introduction that gives a reader unfamiliar with Ritsos an excellent background on the poet from his own perspective.

Dated according to when Ritsos composed them, it’s fascinating to see how some days were especially productive for him.  These small details are helpful in understanding the context and meaning.  For example, in Notes on the Margins of Time, written from 1938-1941, Ritsos explores the forces of war that are trickling into even the smallest villages.  Without direct commentary, he alludes to trains, blood, and the sea that takes soldiers away, seldom to return.  Playing an active role in these violent times, the moon observes all, and even appears as a thief ready to steal life from whom it is still new. From “In the Barracks”:

The moon entered the barracks

It rummaged in the soldiers’ blankets

Touched an undressed arm  Sleep

Someone talks in his sleep   Someone snores

A shadow gesture on the long wall

The last trolley bus went by  Quietness

 

Can all these be dead tomorrow?

Can they be dead from right now?

 

A soldier wakes up

He looks around with glassy eyes

A thread of blood hangs from the moon’s lips

 

In Romiosini, the postwar years are a focus (1945-1947), and they have not been kind.  The seven parts to this piece each reflect a soldier’s journey home.

 

These trees don’t take comfort in less sky

These rocks don’t take comfort under foreigners’

                Footsteps

These faces don’t’ take comfort but only

                In the sun

These hearts don’t take comfort except in justice.

 

The return to his country is marked by bullet-ridden walls, burnt-out homes, decay, and the predominantly female populace, one that still hears the bombs falling and the screams of the dead as they dully gaze about, looking for fathers, husbands, and sons.  The traveler’s journey is marked by introspection and grim memories reflected on to the surfaces of places and things he thought he knew.
“And now is the time when the moon kisses him sorrowfully

                Close to his ear

The seaweed the flowerpot the stool and the stone ladder

                Say good evening to him

And the mountains the seas and cities and the sky

                Say good evening to him

And then finally shaking the ash off his cigarette

                Over the iron railing

He may cry because of his assurance

He may cry because of the assurance of the trees and

                The stars and his brothers”

 

An entirely different feeling is found in Parentheses, composed 1946-1947.  In it, healing is observed and a generosity of spirit exerts itself among those whose hearts had been previously crushed.  In “Understanding”:

 

A woman said good morning to someone –so simple and natural

                Good morning…

Neither division nor subtraction  To be able to look outside

Yourself-warmth and serenity  Not to be

‘just yourself’ but ‘you too’  A small addition

A small act of practical arithmetic easily understood…

 

On the surface, it may appear simple, a return to familiarity that may have been difficulty in times of war.  Yet on another level, he appears to be referring to the unity among the Greek people-the  ‘practical arithmetic’ that kept them united though their political state was volatile.  Essentially timeless, his counsel goes far beyond nationalism.

 

Moonlight Sonata, written in 1956, is an impossibly romantic and poignant lyric poem that feels more like a short story.  In it, a middle-aged woman talks to a young man in her rustic home.  As he prepares to leave, she asks to walk with him a bit in the moonlight.  “The moon is good –it doesn’t show my gray hair.  The moon will turn my hair gold again.  You won’t see the difference.  Let me come with you”

 

Her refrain is repeated over and over as they walk, with him silent and her practically begging him to take her away from the house and its memories:

 

“I know that everyone marches to love alone

Alone to glory and to death

I know it  I tried it  It’s of no use

Let me come with you”

 

The poem reveals her memories as well as his awkward silence, yet at the end of their journey, she doesn’t leave.  Ritsos leaves the ending open:  was it a dream?  If not, why did she not go?  What hold did the house have over her?  Was it just the moonlight or a song on the radio that emboldened her?

 

In 1971, Ritsos wrote The Caretaker’s Desk in Athens, where he was under surveillance but essentially free.  At this time he seems to be translating himself-that of how he was processing his own personal history.  Already acclaimed for his work, perhaps he was uncertain of his own identity.

 

From “The Unknown”,

 

He knew what his successive disguises stood for

(even with them often out of time and always vague)

A fencer  a herald  a priest  a ropewalker

A hero  a victim   a dead Iphigenia  He didn’t know

The one he disguised himself as  His colorful costumes

Pile on the floor covering the hole of the floor

And on top of the pile the carved golden mask

And in the cavity of the mask   the unfired pistol

 

If he is indeed discussing his identity, it’s with incredible honesty as to both his public persona and his private character.  After all, he’d been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968 (and eight more times) and he was likely weighing, in his later years, all that he’d endured.

 

The beauty of this particular translation is that, while subjects and emotions change over time, they still feel united by the underlying character of Ritsos.  Some translators leave their own imprint or influence, yet this feels free of such adjustment.  It’s as if Ritsos’ voice itself has been translated, with the pauses, humor, and pace that identify the subtle characteristics of an individual.

http://www.blacksheepdances.com

 

‘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

~ . ~

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

ubermensch_cover

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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