‘Absurd, insightful, comic and profound the poems of Opera Bufa combine eroticism and spirituality, responsibility and the acknowledgement of the human condition, as if Aristophanes and Seferis sat down to collaborate on a grand work together.’
– Richard Olafson
Published in 2010 by Libros Libertad
If language is the primal experience of mankind, then absurdity is the tease that always surprises us as a glittering determinant of meaning. In his new book, Opera Bufa, Manolis uses the poetic logic of the absurd as a literary device to entice us into multilayered images that flame through the margins of his thoughts. On the one hand it is quite possible to misinterpret the swirls of absurdity as an encroaching cruel intelligence, or paradoxical nonsense or even the desultory whim of one’s conscience point of view–and that would indeed be true if absurdity were constellated as a disorder and had no obvious attachment other than its sound. But on the other hand, when absurdity is used in congruence with evaluations and appraisal that spark insight, then something extraordinary happens; meaning is highlighted and enshrined in the stylistic spectrum that examines its bridal bed.– The craning of the head, the choke and wheeze of life that is our burden, the mirror’s eyes give form and weight to our inertia, they all merge and gallop like apostrophes back towards the solitary cry of the human spirit, swirling and transformed every time Manolis picks up his pen. With Fellini-like attention to detail and fascination, he frames existence not as a blind truth or an algorithm but as a variant that localizes the appearance of things, like the powerful warp of ambivalence life inspires. Can we do better? Is it possible to serve love in a more authentic manner? For Manolis, I think the implication in this collection is a resounding yes… and it seems to rise out of the layered shadows below endless olive groves like a divine sigh. I invite those who love poetry to step into his interior life, leave behind their own translations of what it means to be human, and to observe a master poet at work.
– Ilya Tourtidis, poet,
“Manolis, publisher and poet, has created a mock epic of oceanic dimensions. Absurd, insightful, comic and profound the poems of Opera Bufa combine eroticism and spirituality, responsibility and the acknowledgement of the human condition, as if Aristophanes and Seferis sat down to collaborate on a grand work together. The deep ground of Manolis’ poetry is an ancient music that is the source of all great poetry, and within the context of these poems the shade of Anacreon and Neruda is ever present. Opera Bufa is incandescent flashing sparks of poetic energy that linger long after the book is put down, a deepening resonance. The narrative thread of the poems offers us compassion and ecstatic wonder, alert to the injustice of the world. The bawdy and the sublime are infused with limitless desire bursting out of the quotidian world of politics and the commonplace. At the core of these poems lies the problem of evil and the injustice of mankind to his own kind, in passionate poems where realism shines with mystery and imaginative light. Combining a baroque sensibility with a flair for surrealism, Opera Bufa is a transcendent and illuminous work, as the poems rise from the beginning to a great crescendo in an operatic chorus. A delight to read, these poems, filled with rage and passionate desire, offer an unforgettable experience and a major contribution to our literature. ”
– Richard Olafson, poet, author of Cloud on my Tongue, editor, publisher, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, BC
‘Sex. Death. God. In a poetic celebration of the absurd, we travel through lands of juniper and hibiscus, olive grove and partridge. We’re swept along by a fast-moving stream of creation hoping to make sense of it all, until we realize that’s exactly the point. Opera Bufa doesn’t aim to make sense. Manolis writes like a Greek Jack Kerouac, taking us on the road with Sisyphus and Odysseus, displaying a hot-blooded irreverence for rhyme or reason, and a love for the lush power of words.
– Angela Long, poet, Observations
The genesis of tragedy sharp like the crisp watermelon black spots in a red cosmos I dig with my fingers trying to unravel the meaning of my thirst some fiery July noon or a cuke picked from its mother's arm at dawn when one wakes to go to church or to the pious execution of an allopistos saint benevolence or benediction swirling a winding path that forgets your name though remembers the taste of your soles on gravel rebelling when the undulating shadow of your voice gnaws the chirp of chickadees murmur of its echo becomes a miracle and bubbles from the depths of sacred empyrean music your devotion bell peals for the recently departed osprey and its grace dives into clear shallows where an unnoticed loon cries away his departure and a last ray filters its glimmer through the lonely cloud mesmerizing a moment of silence that traps my perception to ask the most peculiar question, my emotions that guard cemetery gates affirming with salutes and shouting: we can do better