Posts Tagged ‘review’

merging dimensions cover

ΔΕΥΤΕΡΗ ΠΑΡΟΥΣΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΑ — ΚΡΙΤΙΚΗ

 ~João da Penha

 

ΠΟΙΗΤΗΣ, ΤΟΥ ΠΡΑΓΜΑΤΙΚΟΥ

 

Αν πάρουμε σαν παράδειγμα το τραγούδι του Frank Sinatra που λέει ότι, όλοι τραγουδούν αλλά μόνον δέκα με δώδεκα τραγουδιστές υπάρχουν, μπορούμε να πούμε ότι μόνο τόσοι λίγοι αληθινοί ποιητές υπάρχουν στον κόσμο — εδώ και παντού, ποιητές του χθές ή σημερνοί. Κι υποπτεύομαι ότι δεν θα υπάρξουν ποτέ πολλοί ή τουλάχιστον δεν θα υπάρξουν πολλοί εξαιρετικοί. Κι είμαι σίγουρος πως δεν θα υπάρξουν τόσοι πολλοί όσα τα βιβλία ποίησης που εκδίδονται και προωθούνται από οικονομικά ισχυρούς φορείς και με τίτλους που είναι μόνο για να εντυπωσιάσουν. Συναντούμε πολλές ποιητικές εξαασκήσεις κάνουν ακριβώς αυτό: μιαν εξάσκηση ή φαντάζονται ότι κάνουν. Αλλά εκείνοι που γράφουν εξαιρετική ποίηση είναι λίγοι από λίγους χαρισματικούς που ανήκουν σε μια ξεχωριστή κλάση ανθρώπων.

 

Ο Schiller είπε ότι δεν αρκεί να γράψει κανείς καλούς στίχους για να αυτοονομαστεί ποιητής γιατί ο καθένας κι απανταχού μπορεί να γράψει μερικούς στίχους αλλά αυτοί που γράφουν εξαιρετική ποίηση είναι πολύ λίγοι όπως ανέφερα πιο πάνω. Μόνον η μικρή αυτή κλάση ανθρώπων έχει το χάρτη του μονοπατιού. Κι όσοι το έχουν και γνωρίζουν πώς να το διαβάζουν, και ξέρουν πώς να το εξηγούν, αυτοί μόνο ηγούνται και οδηγούν όλους τους άλλους, όλους μας εννοώ, που αποτελούμε την ομάδα των δημιουργών-ποιητών, προς τον τόπο της ποίησης, κι αν είμαστε ευαίσθητοι στα των Μουσών θα καταλάβουμε. Οι υπόλοιποι θα κάνουν απλά τουρισμό.

 

Ο Eric Ponty, που μετέφρασε το βιβλίο ποίησης του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη στην Πορτογαλική γλώσσα, έχει το χάρτη του μονοπατιού γιατί είναι ο ίδιος ένας αυθεντικός ποιητής κι η ωριμότητά του είναι ολοφάνερη, όπως μας υπογραμίζει η έκδοση του “Retirement Boy Goes to the Circus in Brodowski” (Εκδόσεις Μούσα, Σάο Πάολο, Βραζιλία, 2003).

 

Στο βιβλίο του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη, ΔΕΥΤΕΡΗ ΠΑΡΟΥΣΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΑ που μετέφρασε ο Eric Ponty και συγκεκριμένα στο ποίημα, ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΑΣ,

 

ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΑΣ

 

Στον ήλιο του Απόλλωνα μεγάλωσα

 

λεπτά εκφραστικά

μόνος στα σκοτεινά

πρoτού τα μάτια ανοίξω

είχα για συνοδία

το νόμο της αποτυχίας

 

που εγεννήθηκα τυφλός

μ’ είπαν κι αιρετικό

μια επανάσταση στη γέννησή της

πριν καν μια λέξη να ειπώ

κλάμα λυπητερό ή πόνου

 

συγκέντρωσα όλη τη δύναμή μου

το ραντεβού μου με το θάνατο εταχτοποίησα

ώρες πριν γεννηθώ

στα χέρια της μητέρας

νιογένητη γιορτή

λάθος επιτρεπταίο

 

δυο πόδια για να περπατώ

μία καρδιά

για να αισθάνομαι

κι άλλα ανθρώπινα

μεγαλοσύνης σύσσημα

 

Η ανάπτυξη του ποιήματος αυτού αποδεικνύει ότι ο χώρος του ποιητή δεν υποκλείνεται μπροστά σε καθορισμένους λεκτικούς και κανόνες αλληλουχίας που κυβερνούν τον κόσμο της εμπειρίας (τίποτα δεν είναι πιο πραγματικό απ’ το τίποτα, είπε ο Δημόκριτος) κι οι ποιητές το γνωρίζουν αυτό καλά. Γι’ αυτό ακριβώς υπάρχει και το ειδικό λογικό. Ειδικό αλλά όχι αμφισβηταίο ή αυθαίρετο. Ειδικό γιατί οι ποιητές κατέχουν το “κλειδί του βασιλείου”.

 

Ο Croce και ο Vossler, τώρα που το θυμήθηκα, πολέμισαν ένα γύρω στη φράση Η Στρογγυλή Τράπεζα είναι τετράγωνη και για τον Ιταλό αναλυτή η φράση αυτή δηλώνει ότι δεν υπάρχει καθόλου λογική έννοια, ενώ ο Γερμανός αναλυτής έλαβε τη φράση αυτή σαν αληθινή, από αισθητική και γραμματολογική άποψη αδιαφορώντας για το λογικά αδύνατο. Ο Vossler κι “άλλοι πολλοί πριν και μετά απ’ αυτόν κατάλαβαν ότι οι ποιητές είναι ο μόνοι που δημιουργούν την πραγματικότητα. Στην κυριολεξία οι ποιητές δημιουργούν κόσμους όπως στα ποιήματα του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη που μετέφρασε ο Eric Ponty, μουσικός αλλά και ποιητής, που ακολουθούν τη συμβουλή του Wagner ότι ο ποιητής τονώνει το αντιληπτό του ανθρώπου και τον οδηγεί στο να κάνει νέους συνδυασμούς του αντιληπτέου έχοντας σαν οδηγό την αισθητική του αντίληψη.

 

Αν, όπως μας λέει ο Eric Ponty σ’ ένα απ’ τα ποιήματα αυτά,

 

στα χέρια της μητέρας

νιογένητη γιορτή

λάθος επιτρεπταίο

δυο πόδια για να περπατώ

 

είναι εξ ίσου αληθινό και πρέπει πάντα να δίνουμε προσοχή στο τί μας λένε οι ποιητές (λίγοι εξηγούν τις λέξεις καλύτερα απ’ τους ποιητές, γείτονες των φιλοσόφων). Ο Eric Ponty, στο απόγειο της δημιουργικής του καρριέρας, μας λέει και μας υπογραμμίζει πολλά αφού η μετάφραση των ποιημάτων ΔΕΥΤΕΡΗ ΠΑΡΟΥΣΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΑ του Κρητικού-Καναδού ποιητή, συγγραφέα και μεταφραστή Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη δεν είναι τίποτε άλλο από ένα ποιητικό αριστούργημα.

 

“…για τη συνεχή του αντανάκλαση-ενδοσκόπηση και λυρική φωνή και τον τρόπο που βλέπει την ύπαρξη όχι σαν ένα στείρο αντικείμενο, αλλά σαν ένα σύνθετο δυναμικό που έχει τη δική του εξαιρετική και ιδιόμορφη εικόνα του αληθινού…” όπως μας λέει ο ποιητής-κριτικός Ηλίας Τουρτίδης, είναι αναγκαίο να δώσουμε προσοχή στη φωνή του Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη μέσω της μετάφρασης του Eric Ponty που είναι ένας ταλαντούχος σημερνός ποιητής.

 

 

~ João da Penha, δημοσιογράφος, συνταξιούχος καθηγητής, που έχει συναργαστεί με πάμπολλα λογοτεχνικά περιοδικά κι εφημερίδες. Επίσης συγγραφέας πολλών βιβλίων όπως των What Is Existentialism (Brasiliense, 2011, 17. ed.) And Philosophical Periods (Ática 2000, 4. ed.). Έχει μεταφράσει για λογοτεχνικά περιοδικά κι εφημερίδες ποίηση των Ρώσων  Sierguêi Iessiênin and Alieksandr Blok και διηγήμτα των José María Argüedas, Júlio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez, που εκδόθηκανστη λατινική Αμερική.

 

 

 

SECOND ASDVENT OF ZEUS REVIEW

By João da Penha

 

 

POET, OF FACT.

 

 

Singing, everyone sings, but singers only about ten or twelve.

 

The boutade, they say, is by Frank Sinatra, whose remarkable vocal skills – it seems to me – have not been contested to this day.

To paraphrase the song of the great American singer, it can be said that there are not so many poets like this in the world – here and elsewhere, yesterday and today. I suspect that there will never be many poets, or at least many great poets. At least, I am convinced, not as many as the growing number of edited collections suggest, by marketing strategy arts, just under hyperbolic titles. Many poetic exercise exercises it, or imagine exercising it. But to make great poetry is grace granted to a minority; to a caste of elect, therefore.

Schiller, by the way, has already warned that it is not enough to create good verses so that its author considers himself a poet. Now, to do verses, almost everyone, at some point in life, has already done. To make POETRY, however, is the road traveled by the minority referred to above. Only she, this chosen caste, has the map of the trail. Whoever holds it, who knows how to read it, interprets its coordinates, leads the others, that is, all of us, who have formed this majority, as creators, of the poetic territory, only by traveling, if sensitive to the Muses, as travelers. For the senseless, the tour of this territory will be nothing more than mere tourism.

Eric Ponty has the map of the trail. He is an authentic poet. Maturity is everything, the supreme bard in the “King Lear” told us. Poet, owner of his craft, poet who reached the full domain of poetic making.

His poetic virtuosity, Ponty has already shown and demonstrated in the magnificent “Retirement Boy Goes to the Circus in Brodowski” (Musa Publishing House, São Paulo, 2003.) In this book with its translation, our poet only makes it reaffirmed. For example when translating this stanza of Manolis’ poem Apollo, which reminds us of Paul Valéry’s Socratic prose in Eupalinos Lame et la Danse Dialogue De L arbre:

 

APOLLO

 

And I grew under Apollo’s sun

 

minutes of expressiveness

alone in darkness and

before I opened my eyes

I was accompanied

by the law of failure

born blind and

accused of heresy

a revolution in its making

even before I could utter

a groan or a begging cry

 

I gathered all my strength

to pick a date with death

hours before I appeared

in my mother’s arms

newborn festivity

error permitted

two legs just to walk

a heart as if

to feel emotion and

other human traces

of grandeur

 

 

 

APOLO

 

E eu cresci sob o sol de Apolo

 

Minutos de expressividade

Sozinho nas trevas e

Antes de abrir os meus olhos

Eu estava acompanhado

Pela lei da bobagem

 

Nasceu cega e

Acusada de heresia

Uma conflagração na sua fazendo

Mesmo antes que eu pudesse articular

Um suspiro ou um grito a mendigar

 

Eu ajuntei toda minha força

A seleção de uma data com a morte

Horas antes eu semelhava

Nos meus braços da minha mãe

Festa de um recém-nascido

Erro admitido

As duas pernas apenas a pé

Um coração como se

Sentisse à emoção e

Outros traços humanos

Da grandeza

 

This defense can be translated as the recognition that poets inhabit a province where logic does not bow down to the principles that govern the empirical world (nothing is more real than nothing, pre-Socratic Democritus preached). Poets know that. That’s why your particular logic. Particular, but not arbitrary. Particular because only they have the “kingdom key”.

Croce and Vossler, the memory comes to me now, they polemicized around the phrase: “The round table is square”. For the Italian thinker, the phrase would sum up to a total absence of meaning, illogical, while the German critic saw it as true, aesthetically and grammatically valid, caring little that logically impossible. Vossler, like so many others, before and after him, realized that the poet is the one who creates realities. Poets are creators of worlds. Therefore, in the poems translated by Eric Ponty, a musician, as well as a poet, he follows the Wagnerian advice that the poet does nothing but stimulate the understanding, leading the reader to make new combinations on the subject already known by means of sensory perception.

If, as Ponty tells us in one of the translated poems, “In My Mother’s Arms /newborn festivity / error permitted / two legs just to walk” it is equally true that we should listen to what poets have to say (few decipher the world better than poets, neighbors to philosophers). Eric Ponty, at the height of his creative force, has much to tell us through these translations as he did with Manolis-a Canadian Greek poet who’s credit is The Second Advent of Zeus a masterful piece.

 

“…for his sustained reflection, for a lyrical voice, and an invitation to see life not as a barren subject, but as a complex dynamic that has its own extraordinary design and imago of truth” as Ilya Tourtidis tells us, it is urgent that we listen to Manolis’ voice through the translation of the poet-translator Ponty, one of the most talented of his time.

 

 

 

João da Penha, a journalist and retired professor, collaborated in cultural publications such as Encounters with Brazilian Civilization, Cult and Tempo Brasileiro. Author, among other books, of What Is Existentialism (Brasiliense, 2011, 17. ed.) And Philosophical Periods (Ática 2000, 4. ed.), Translated for magazines and newspapers poems by Russians Sierguêi Iessiênin and Alieksandr Blok, and short stories By José María Argüedas, Júlio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez, published in The first short stories of ten masters of Latin American narrative (Paz e Terra, 1978). How to read Wittgenstein. São Paulo: Paulus, 2013.

 

 

 

CONSTANTINE  P. CAVAFY a discussion

 

Constantine P. Cavafy, along with a few other twentieth century Greek poets such as George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis, Yiannis Ritsos, Kostis Palamas and Andreas Kalvos, established the revival of Greek poetry both in Greece and abroad. They emerged as the new era of contemporary Greek poets at a time when the use of the Greek language was swept by the conflict between the old, “καθαρεύουσα—katharevoussa” traditional form of language and the more common “δημοτική—demotiki”, plebian or demotic as it was called.

Cavafy used both the traditional and the demotic modes although mostly the latter; he spent most of his life in Alexandria under the influence of the almighty Greek Orthodox Church and the day before his death he took communion as if to declare that he was ready; as if he was prepared for his transformation, from the modern poet, Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis of Greece to the Cavafy of the World. It is said that in the last minutes of his life he took pencil and paper and drew a big circle with a single dot in the middle.

It had only been twenty years since his death when one of the most famous bookstores in London advertised that: “We carry the best ever books: from Chaucer to Cavafy.” In 1919 Cavafy was introduced to the English reading public by E.M. Forster who helped establish his reputation in the Western World.

His poems combine the precision of a master craftsman with the sensitivity of Sappho as they are concise, yet intimate when their subject is  erotic love, mostly between men. Real characters as well as imaginary, historical events as well as fictional are his inspiration; the questionable future, the sensual pleasures, the wandering morality of the many, the psychology of the individual and that of the masses, homosexuality, certain atavistic beliefs and an existential nostalgia are some of his themes. Cavafy’s conscience projected his crystal clear belief in the immortal written word, which he bequeathed unto the four corners of the world.

On the 100th anniversary of his birthday and thirty years after his death, his complete works were published by “Ikaros” in 1963. This edition was prepared up to a point, we could say, by the poet himself who had kept all his poems in a concise and exact order; each poem on a page (which was pinned in exact chronological order on top of the proceeding page); his older poems were turned into booklet form which traditionally consisted of 16 pages although in this case the length is questionable. The sequence of the poems in these booklets was not chronological but thematic and depended on how he chose to emphasize their coherence. These booklets were mailed to anyone who asked for them. In the last years of his life he published two such booklets, one containing his poems written between the years 1905-1915 and the other with his poems of 1916-1918; every poem published during those fourteen years were included in these two booklets.

Cavafy was concise and accurate; so much so that he would work on each of his verses again and again making sure that it was in its final and perfect form before he would mail it to anyone; most of this of course is lost in the translation, as such an element in writing is impossible to replicate in another language. He drew most of his inspiration for the historical poems from the first and second centuries B.C. and the Hellinistic Era of Alexandria around and after the days of Alexander the Great. His love poems were entirely devoted to adult love between men; there is not a single mention of a woman as the subject of erotic love in his poems. The image of the kore, an erotic subject of other poets, is absent from his stanzas. Reference to women in Cavafy’s work is only about older, mature and gracious figures playing out their roles in the Hellinistic era or Byzantium’s golden age.

Cavafy wrote mostly in free verse although there were times when he used rhyme to emphasize irony; the number of syllables per verse varied from ten to seventeen.

Cavafy’s inspiration derives from many different subjects; in one of the well- known poems, Ithaka, he explores, like Odysseus on his return to his home island after the Trojan War, the pleasure and importance of the way to a goal rather than the goal itself, and shows that the process of achieving something is important because of all the experience it makes possible.

In the poem Waiting for the Barbarians we see the importance of the influence that people and events outside of the country may have in the lives of the inhabitants of a certain place and it can quite easily be related to today’s doctrine of “war on terror” after the attack of September, 2001 and the role that fear of the foreigner, or the enemy, plays in the decision making process of a nation. A parallel can be drawn between today’s “war on terror” and the final verses of the poem…

And what are we to become without the barbarians?

                 These people were some kind of a solution.” 

 

In the poem Thermopylae Cavafy explores the subject of duty, responsibility, and most importantly, the idea of paying the “debt”; he seems to believe in the philosophical principle of the Universal Balance which exists everywhere, and when that balance is disturbed by the actions of one man another person needs to reestablish it: in this case the poem refers to the treason by Ephialtes which disturbs that preexisting balance and  which the leader of the 300 Lacedaimonians, Leonidas, tries to counter—balance by his act of self sacrifice.  The crucifixion of Christ has the same philosophical base. Odusseus Elytis refers to the same subject in the Genesis of his Axion Esti (it is worthy) where he says that the Old Wise Creator prepared the four Great Voids on earth and in the body of man:

 

           “…the void of Death for the Upcoming Child

            the void of Killing for the Right Judgment

            the void of Sacrifice for the Equal Retribution

            the void of the Soul for the Responsibility of the Other…”

 

Isolation and the sense of enclosure unfolds in Cavafy’s poem “Walls” which is relevant to today as some countries tend to resort to it as  a means of defense against foreign influences coming from the outside and changing the thinking of the people, but also as a reason for becoming self-sufficient and self-reliant.

There are a lot of satirical connotations and humor in some poems and one such poem stands out: Nero’s Deadline where the poet laughs at the way a person perceives their time on earth. The same subject is referred to by the better known Greek saying: “You like to make God laugh, go and tell Him your plans…”

The extent to which a politician or a system may stretch truth in order to achieve a goal and the axiom “history repeats itself” are adamantly present in Cavafy’s poetry as we see the travesty of events when presented to the public from an official position:

“…the gigantic lie of the palace—Antony triumphed in Greece.”

The lies a government may throw at people in order to deceive. Today’s “…war on terror…” is such a travesty and it resembles an umbrella harboring under it various means and purposes of deluding the populace; at other times this is a means of camouflaging the inability of the governing party to conduct themselves in a fair and balanced way.

Cavafy’s work was at times caustic and irony was used frequently to emphasize a point. Vagenas writes: “Cavafy is the only poet who uses irony as the main mechanism of poetic creativity. His precise dramatic as well as tragic irony is the element that makes his use of the language produce a deep poetic emotion, rendering the verbal sensualism unnecessary.”

Cavafy expresses views of his era looked at through the eyes of the Greek immigrant, or the Greek of the Diaspora. The survival of and adherence to Greek values is what Cavafy cares to preserve and his poetry reflects this by doing justice to his great wish that the Greek language might spread to the far ends of the Bactrian Lands. The heroic stubbornness that proudly said ‘No’ to convention and settling down, the pursuit of true life which carries on ceaselessly, dragging along mud and diamonds, mixing the old with the new, joining the yes with the no, opening new horizons at any moment, birthing new hopes and views at any second is the life Cavafy wanted to spread all over the known world.

Most reviewers and analysts of Cavafy’s work have pronounced him a homosexual although that may be taken with a grain of salt. The western commentaries clearly and as a matter of fact have concluded that he was

homosexual whereas some of the Greek commentators are reluctant to openly agree with that notion; In our view the author can only be classified this or that based on documented data such as pictures, or direct associations of the commentator with the author, and in this case there are no such data available. Yet when a poet writes so many erotic poems having as his subject young men of twenty to twenty nine years old and with not a single woman ever being referred to as a subject of erotic love, it is easy and understandable to assume that the person under discussion is a homosexual; yet there is another angle one may take: the angle of the alter ego that a writer creates in his work to compliment or better yet to refine his image in his own eyes before the eyes of the reading public, as in the case of Cavafy; In some of his personal writings we read:

“I have to put an end to this myself, by the first of April otherwise I won’t be able to travel. I’ll get sick and how am I to enjoy my voyage when I’m sick?”

        “March 16th: Midnight. I succumbed again. Despair, despair, despair. There is no hope. Unless I end this by the 15th of April. God help me.”

In another note:

“I am tormented. I got up and I am writing now. What am I to do and

what is going to happen. What am I to do? Help. I am lost.”

In these personal notes of a despairing man who seeks help we see the distress of a person not because they react to their just concluded homosexual encounter but rather their despair in their self-consumed sexual satisfaction through masturbation and the guilt associated with it…Let us not forget that Cavafy grew up in an era of the Diaspora when the Greek Orthodox Church dominated the lives of the populace in such a strict way that any movement outside the dogmatic rules of Christian doctrine was considered a serious and unforgivable sin; I personally remember as a young lad reading the famous booklet “Holy Epistle” with its frightening images of brimstone and fire coming down from the heavens to sear the sinners who would commit any kind of sexual or other sin. It was quite purposefully given to me to read in my early teen years and it took decades before I came to the realization that I didn’t need this nonsense in my life. This was the world Cavafy grew up in and when he had his first chance of being on his own he made his best effort of rebellion against such suppressing doctrine in order to liberate himself from the pangs of church inflicted fear; when one looks at his life from this point of view one can simply see the reaction of a man expressed in a unique way directly opposed to the expected and well formatted way of the church.

Atanasio Cortato, Cavafy’s personal friend and confidant, writes:

“Cavafy’s homosexuality is questionable. One needs to apply a deep and objective study on his life and perhaps conclude that Cavafy was not homosexual. None ever came along with concrete evidence for this and no scandal of any kind is attributed to him.”

This declaration is of double importance because it is the declaration of Cavafy’s personal friend who knew the poet well and who would have known of any scandal should there have been one in which the poet was involved. Yet there was no such scandal documented or told.

Another view expressed by Stratis Tsirkas and J.M. Hatzifotis was that

Cavafy’s passion was not his homosexuality but rather his alcoholism and his tendency to masturbation. The poet was a very shy person by nature, and although when his mood struck him was a very stimulating and entertaining host, it was impossible for him to proceed into a homosexual relationship. Under this lens his erotic poetry is nothing but his fantasizing of the unrealized…

George Seferis referring to Cavafy as the deceptive old man of the Alexandrian Sea, Proteus, who always changes appearance, says: “For this reason we have to be careful, and exercise caution, not to be seduced by our own tendencies or by taking as given his words and dialectic inventions based on their superficial sense.”

A different aspect of his erotic poems can be found when one sees the time and place in which the poet lived as an adult and on his own. We make this last comment because it is known that Cavafy lived with his mother until her death in 1899 and after that he moved in with his brother John until 1906 when John left for Cairo. At that time Cavafy moved in with his brother Paul until he also moved away to Paris. Then the poet started living on his own. Having to work for a living in such a polyethnic city as Alexandria where the influences of three continents mingled and at times collided and always being under the watchful eye of the all- powerful Greek Orthodox Church with its dogmatism and stubbornness, Cavafy, like any other man of letters, questioned a lot of what was going on around him.

One can easily theorize that all the eroticism and rebelliousness expressed by the young lovers of his poems are nothing but the reactions of a person who lived almost all his adult life with family members and who, in his new found freedom, rebelled against established values and questioned well positioned dogmatism. One can easily theorize that Cavafy fantasized about things he wished for rather than recording things he had experienced. From that point of view the eroticism of his poems can be seen as an expression of suppressed feelings he had for years, yet feelings he never got the courage to act upon.

Cavafy lived in the polyethnic city of Alexandria; he moved and breathed around the Greek Community and a moral and law abiding way of life is clearly Greek in its essence. The law that applied to Greeks in Alexandria is that of France which is not much different than the Greek law yet different than the law applied to the locals. Therefore the homosexuality and lawlessness of some of his poetry has to do with the moral, communal and law abiding way of life of the Greek Community of Alexandrian society. Cavafy had a good knowledge of that and that knowledge guided him in such a way that his bolder and more daring poems which would have created an uproar in the established code of conduct of Alexandrian Greek Society were only released in 1920 when the poet had become very well-known and had carved a space in the creative society of his era. He was at that time established as a very successful poet and none dared dispute this or accuse him of anything.

 

~Manolis Aligizakis, Vancouver, BC

merging dimensions cover

 

THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS REVIEW

By João da Penha

 

 

POET, OF FACT.

 

 

Singing, everyone sings, but singers only about ten or twelve.

 

The boutade, they say, is by Frank Sinatra, whose remarkable vocal skills – it seems to me – have not been contested to this day.

To paraphrase the song of the great American singer, it can be said that there are not so many poets like this in the world – here and elsewhere, yesterday and today. I suspect that there will never be many poets, or at least many great poets. At least, I am convinced, not as many as the growing number of edited collections suggest, by marketing strategy arts, just under hyperbolic titles.

Many poetic exercise exercises it, or imagine exercising it. But to make great poetry is grace granted to a minority; to a caste of elect, therefore.

Schiller, by the way, has already warned that it is not enough to create good verses so that its author considers himself a poet. Now, to do verses, almost everyone, at some point in life, has already done. To make POETRY, however, is the road traveled by the minority referred to above. Only she, this chosen caste, has the map of the trail. Whoever holds it, who knows how to read it, interprets its coordinates, leads the others, that is, all of us, who have formed this majority, as creators, of the poetic territory, only by traveling, if sensitive to the Muses, as travelers. For the senseless, the tour of this territory will be nothing more than mere tourism.

Eric Ponty has the map of the trail. He is an authentic poet. Maturity is everything, the supreme bard in the “King Lear” told us. Poet, owner of his craft, poet who reached the full domain of poetic making.

His poetic virtuosity, Ponty has already shown and demonstrated in the magnificent “Retirement Boy Goes to the Circus in Brodowski” (Musa Publishing House, São Paulo, 2003.) In this book with its translation, our poet only makes it reaffirmed. For example when translating this stanza of Manolis’ poem Apollo, which reminds us of Paul Valéry’s Socratic prose in Eupalinos Lame et la Danse Dialogue De L arbre:

 

APOLLO

 

And I grew under Apollo’s sun

 

minutes of expressiveness

alone in darkness and

before I opened my eyes

I was accompanied

by the law of failure

born blind and

accused of heresy

a revolution in its making

even before I could utter

a groan or a begging cry

 

I gathered all my strength

to pick a date with death

hours before I appeared

in my mother’s arms

newborn festivity

error permitted

two legs just to walk

a heart as if

to feel emotion and

other human traces

of grandeur

 

 

 

APOLO

 

E eu cresci sob o sol de Apolo

 

Minutos de expressividade

Sozinho nas trevas e

Antes de abrir os meus olhos

Eu estava acompanhado

Pela lei da bobagem

 

Nasceu cega e

Acusada de heresia

Uma conflagração na sua fazendo

Mesmo antes que eu pudesse articular

Um suspiro ou um grito a mendigar

 

Eu ajuntei toda minha força

A seleção de uma data com a morte

Horas antes eu semelhava

Nos meus braços da minha mãe

Festa de um recém-nascido

Erro admitido

As duas pernas apenas a pé

Um coração como se

Sentisse à emoção e

Outros traços humanos

Da grandeza

 

This defense can be translated as the recognition that poets inhabit a province where logic does not bow down to the principles that govern the empirical world (nothing is more real than nothing, pre-Socratic Democritus preached). Poets know that. That’s why your particular logic. Particular, but not arbitrary. Particular because only they have the “kingdom key”.

Croce and Vossler, the memory comes to me now, they polemicized around the phrase: “The round table is square”. For the Italian thinker, the phrase would sum up to a total absence of meaning, illogical, while the German critic saw it as true, aesthetically and grammatically valid, caring little that logically impossible. Vossler, like so many others, before and after him, realized that the poet is the one who creates realities. Poets are creators of worlds. Therefore, in the poems translated by Eric Ponty, a musician, as well as a poet, he follows the Wagnerian advice that the poet does nothing but stimulate the understanding, leading the reader to make new combinations on the subject already known by means of sensory perception.

If, as Ponty tells us in one of the translated poems, “In My Mother’s Arms /newborn festivity / error permitted / two legs just to walk” it is equally true that we should listen to what poets have to say (few decipher the world better than poets, neighbors to philosophers). Eric Ponty, at the height of his creative force, has much to tell us through these translations as he did with Manolis-a Canadian Greek poet who’s credit is The Second Advent of Zeus a masterful piece.

 

“…for his sustained reflection, for a lyrical voice, and an invitation to see life not as a barren subject, but as a complex dynamic that has its own extraordinary design and imago of truth” as Ilya Tourtidis tells us, it is urgent that we listen to Manolis’ voice through the translation of the poet-translator Ponty, one of the most talented of his time.

 

 

 

João da Penha, a journalist and retired professor, collaborated in cultural publications such as Encounters with Brazilian Civilization, Cult and Tempo Brasileiro. Author, among other books, of What Is Existentialism (Brasiliense, 2011, 17. ed.) And Philosophical Periods (Ática 2000, 4. ed.), Translated for magazines and newspapers poems by Russians Sierguêi Iessiênin and Alieksandr Blok, and short stories By José María Argüedas, Júlio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez, published in The first short stories of ten masters of Latin American narrative (Paz e Terra, 1978). How to read Wittgenstein. São Paulo: Paulus, 2013.

 

 

Ritsos_front large

Yannis Ritsos – Poems

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 rope-walker 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.

~Wikipedia

filloroes

ΦΥΛΛΟΡΡΟΕΣ-FYLOROES, ΕΝΕΚΕΝ, 2013

 

       Ο Ελληνοκαναδός Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης έχει γράψει τρία μυθιστορήματα, ποιητικές συλλογές, καθώς και άρθρα, διηγήματα και μελέτες στα αγγλικά και στα ελληνικά. Η πρόσφατη ποιητική συλλογή του ‘Φυλλορροές’ απαρτίζεται από υπαρξιακά, ερωτικά και κοινωνικοπολιτικά θέματα, με στενή αναφορά στην καθημερινότητα αλλά και σε σπουδαία ιστορικά γεγονότα. Το συναίσθημα ρέει πλούσια σε όλη τη συλλογή. Εκφράζεται μέσα από θέματα όπως η αγάπη, ο έρωτας, η απιστία, η απώλεια και το αίσθημα του ανεκπλήρωτου, η αναζήτηση της ουσίας της ζωής, τα υψηλά ιδανικά, και η έλλειψη ελευθερίας. Το χαρακτηριστικό ύφος ενισχύεται από τον ήχο και τον ρυθμό, που δένουν αρμονικά με το περιεχόμενο. Μια μελαγχολική διάθεση διατρέχει το σύνολο των ποιημάτων, δίνοντας τον τόνο στην πάλη μεταξύ αισιοδοξίας και απαισιοδοξίας: «…κι είπε -/ θέλω να σπείρω/ τούτο το χώμα απ’ την αρχή/ με μια σοδειά νέων ιδεολόγων…» («Νωχελικό απόγευμα»).

       Η γραφή, αν και κάποιες φορές στα όρια του πεζού λόγου, διανθίζεται από ιδιαίτερα ποιητικά στοιχεία. Τεχνικές όπως η επανάληψη και ο διασκελισμός τονίζουν το νοηματικό περιεχόμενο δίνοντας ζωντάνια στη συλλογή. Παρόμοιο αποτέλεσμα επιτυγχάνεται από τις λεπτομερείς περιγραφές, τις πλούσιες εικόνες και τη μουσικότητα του λόγου. Το θέμα της ύπαρξης αναφέρεται στον θάνατο, στο βάρος της ζωής και στο νόημά της, στο γήρας, στο αναπόφευκτο και τη μοίρα, στην παρακμή. Τα ερωτικά ποιήματα εκθέτουν μια γκάμα συναισθημάτων όπως ο πόθος, η χαρά, η θλίψη, η διάψευση, η προδοσία, η παρακμή, η απομάκρυνση του ζευγαριού και η συμβατικότητα της συνύπαρξης. Παρά τον πόνο και την απογοήτευση που συνδέονται με τον έρωτα, ο ποιητής τον θεωρεί το πιο ουσιαστικό συστατικό της ζωής: «…κι αφήνω στη στιγμή την έρευνά μου/ για κάτι ασύλληπτο ή ιδεατό/ και δίχως λέξη βιαστικά γυρνώ/ στο αισθησιακό σου φίλημα.» («Ανακάλυψη»).

      Οι κοινωνικοπολιτικές ανησυχίες εκφράζονται μέσα από θέματα όπως ο πολιτικός αγώνας, η αυτοθυσία των συντρόφων και η ήττα, η ιστορία και το σήμερα, η σχέση της Εκκλησίας με τον πόλεμο, προβληματισμοί και προβλέψεις για το μέλλον, η Ελλάδα, η αθλιότητα της ζωής στην πόλη, η καταστροφή, η σωτηρία, η απόδοση δικαιοσύνης, ο ποιητής/η ποιήτρια μπροστά στην πολιτική πραγματικότητα. Στο τέλος κάποιων ποιημάτων ο Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης θέτει δυνατά ερωτηματικά, ερωτηματικά που μοιάζουν να αποτελούν από μόνα τους τις απαντήσεις: «…Κι αναρωτιέσαι/ κάνουμε άραγε κάτι σωστό/ ή όλα βαδίζουν ίσια προς την κόλαση;» («Ρουτίνα»). Άλλες φορές το κλείσιμο των ποιημάτων παραπέμπει σε σημαντικά ερωτήματα: «…Κι ένας μικρός σπουργίτης/ καθισμένος στο κλαδί/ συνθέτει το πρωινό του ποίημα και/ τα φτερά του ψαλιδίζοντας γράφει,/ αυτά δεν μου χρειάζονται πια» («Σπουργίτες»). Η ποιητική συλλογή διακρίνεται από ευαισθησία για τις ανθρώπινες καταστάσεις και από έντονο κοινωνικό προβληματισμό, στηρίγματα πολύτιμα μέσα στη γενική συναισθηματική νέκρωση και την ακραία βαρβαρότητα που βιώνουμε.

 

        Greek Canadian author Manolis Aligizakis has written three novels, numerous collections of poetry, articles and short stories in both Greek and English. His latest poetry book “Filloroes” consists of existential, erotic and sociopolitical themed poems with clear relation to everyday as well as to historical events. Emotions flow freely throughout the book. They are expressed via images of love, lust, unfaithfulness, loss and the feeling of the unaccomplished, search for the meaning of life, high ideals and the lack of freedom. The poet’s style and idiom are accentuated by his rhythm that is tied harmoniously with the content. Certain melancholy runs through the majority of the poems and underscores the battle between optimism and pessimism: “I want to plough/this ground all over/with a crop of new idealists…” (Saunter).

        The style of the book, sometimes resembling prose, is accented by poetic conventions such as repetition, and the striding of verse that bring the poems to life. Similar result is shown by detail descriptions, rich imagery and musicality of the verse. The existential poems deal with death, weight of life and its meaning, old age, the inescapable end, fate, decadence. The erotic poems display a mixture of emotions such as desire, joy, sadness, denial, betrayal, loneliness and the convention of relationships. Although pain and disappointment are imbued in Eros the poet still considers it the most important variant of life: “and I leave my search/for something inconceivable/ or imaginary/and with no other word/I return/to your sensual loving.”(Discovery).

        Social-political issues such as political struggle, sacrifice of comrades, defeat, history up to today, relation of the church to war, wondering and vision of a future Greece, the misery of city life, destruction, salvation, justice, the poet/poetess before today’s reality, are subjects of these poems. Sometimes at the end of some poems Manolis poses questions that are themselves the answers to such questions: “And you wonder/are we truly making progress/or careening brakeless of-ramps to Hell?” (Routine). Other times the poems lead to serious questioning: “and the young sparrow/sits on the branch and/clipping his wing feathers writes/no need for these anymore” (Sparrows). The collection is imbued by sensitivity toward the everyday human situations and is filled by serious questioning about the emotional death of today’s social landscape and the brutality we live in.

 

Αφροδίτη Γιαννάκη, ΕΝΕΚΕΝ, 2013/Aphroditi Giannakis, ENEKEN, 2013