AUTUMN LEAVES REVIEW
(English translation of the foreword of “Feuilles d’Automne” by Károly Sándor Pallai, published in Paris by the Éditions du Cygne in 2017)
With images spanning from worldliness to metaphysical depths inscribed on these autumn leaves, Manolis offers us a dynamic reinterpretation of the conventional relations, a reframed point of view of our inner universe, of the spirit’s gleaming and of the fluctuation between loss and contention constantly renewing itself and ceaselessly surprising and startling us, thereby outlining the nuanced philosophical portrait of the author. This collection of poems is a textual etching of the poet, a polyphony of lived experiences, impressions, sensations and forebodings. Manolis phrases the essence of his study of ethos and the interpersonal world by probing into the unexplored profundity of human nature, behavior and world of thought. He imposes on himself the daunting task to declare war upon the stumbling and inaccuracy of conventional usage in order to bring to light and to fullness the vibrations of the other world filtering through the crevices of existence.
Breeze, heavenly songs and birds sketch out the flowing dynamics of obscurity and brightness. People transubstantiate in songs and harmonies in order to presage the accomplishment and apogee of the poem and to anticipate the emergence of the aspiration to reach the “endless perfection”, “Eros” and “orgasm” in every sense of the word. The author pursues his quest all the way to the sources of life. The poet, “companion of the infinite”, studies the cracks of existence and erects a textual monument dedicated to the wandering of men who learn to decipher the signs and symbols of the physical and transcendental world, to read the universe by means of the “scent of a red rose”, of “the bird’s first flutter”, “in the wrath of the tempest”, in the rays of sunlight, in the architecture and the psalms of the body and in the flesh of a woman. This collection of poems is woven by the interpenetration of several semantic dimensions: the inter- and intrapersonal axis, nature and love. These texts emphasize the value of the relational dimension of existence. The figures, who compose the verses and who are lost in the “north wind” and in the complexities of the poet’s world, who walk “in the ancestors’ footsteps”, are scattered in archipelagic constellations. Manolis manages with great mastery to postulate as a guiding thread and a central dialectic principle the dream of fullness, the study of the anatomy of hope and sexual desire. The poems unfold in the vital intimacy of nature, eroticism and the transcendental. A character starts to take shape from a sequence of a set of narratives, the figure of a man who constitutes himself by his own narrative activity, by amplifying the voice of his singularity, by contemplating and analyzing the transparency and opacity of his being or by closing on and withdrawing within himself. He conjugates his bonds to the world, giving free rein to the effusions of the text which are at the source of the genesis and complexity of the world and which gravitate around the auto-referential enunciations and around the core of the lyrical subject.
We can discern a voluntary inconsistency at the level of the outlines of identity taking shape in this poetry which is deeply anchored in the memory and in the emotional contents of lived experience. The outlined images form nomad identities permanently engaged in a dynamics of balancing and movement, characterized by far-reaching embranchment and bifurcations and operating against monolithic blocs. The inaccessible, the inexplicable and the ineluctable are the notions and images which mark and characterize the unfolding and the consummation of the poet’s universe in the “orange dusk” of the texts and sensations as they keep lingering like a delicious fragrance which imbues our skin and oozes into our pores. The conscious reflexivity of the author and the complex web of references emphasize the irreducible and inalienable singularity which emerges and unfolds from the verses: the lyrical subject is nurtured by the singularizing effect of the textual flow, by the organization and subjective presentation of lived experience. The oscillation between the semantic axes, the subjects and the diverse methods of approach is deliberate and skillfully worked since it is by means of this fluctuation that the text becomes saturated with a swirling dynamics and transforms the poems into “uncommitted weathervanes” displaying a wide array of nuances and reflections, all the transitions of a color gradient.
The forces of fate appear as well and move into action in order to trace out the limits and to punctuate the traces of remembrance and of productive imagination. The creative intention is audacious and the assembling of heterogeneous and apparently incompatible tesserae shows a great aptitude for awareness and initiative. Manolis rearranges the fragments, the polychrome pieces of his micro-realities and exploded pictures into a totality in order to give consistency to this collection of poems which aspires to nothing less than to comprehend and grasp the essence of life itself. The “drops of the first autumn rain” purify the “crevasses of the mind”, enabling a certain kind of lucidity, a clear-sightedness in order to grant access to a repository of unfulfilled dreams and unsatisfied longings.
Instead of describing the cleavage between the palpability of the material and the intangible nature of the phenomenal and the metaphysical, the poet situates the key poetic challenge of the book in the entanglement of the corporeal, erotic, emotional, spiritual and philosophical axes. That’s where the ego and the identity of the poet expand and enact themselves, where the synthesis of the elements of the essence of life and of the world, of the projection of infinity and of the heterogeneous elements of the identity is achieved. The ego seizes its unity in the multiplicity of feelings, sensations, impressions and images. “Terpsichore’s dance”, a “bloomed rose”, an “olive grove”, the “moist autumn fragrance”, a “canticle” and “the mind’s serenity” are some of the most important unities of construction through which the lyrical subject filters the world and constructs itself in its integrity and in the polyphony of its being.
The portraits, the still lives of everyday scenes become embedded in the poetic vision as an integral part of the objective of the hermeneutics of the self. The subject seeking and discovering itself in the succession and stratification of the verses, images and topoi opens up by narration and remembrance diverse layers which overlap and interpenetrate each other. The quest and the writing of the self are inscribed in the plural semantics of the poems, in a wide variety of the horizons of alterity and in the protean search for the profound values of life. The texts appear as silver gelatin prints, the mystical transcriptions of reality where “light conspires with the wind to craft the soundless poem”.
This poetic universe of being is written at the crossroads of internal and external experiences, of memories of lived experience and of sensations of the self and of the others, of the universe of singularity and the horizon of collectivity. In the poetry of Manolis, the texts, ideas, impressions and sensations become “an instrument of serenity, a song and rhythm” and define the “contours of totality”, of “a fragile cosmos filled with passion, hopes and dreams”. But the poems are also “stigmata and other human scars engraved in the skin” which, by the intensity of their presence and by their “close proximity”, reopen the wounds, touch tender spots and evoke moments of happiness and pleasure that remain forever engraved in our memory. We are thereby witness to the reinterpretation, transubstantiation and apotheosis of everyday scenes of life which, due to the unique colors and vibrations of the author’s voice, become imbued with light, increase in scale and importance and become the cornerstones of a poetry which seeks to embrace, incorporate and absorb life with all its possible facets and nuances.
~Karoly Sandor Pallai