Three Greek Poets
I met Cloe Koutsoubelis and Alexandra Bakonika in Facebook. We share each other’s poems and experiences. I personally met them summer of 2012 when I travelled to Greece. They both live in Thessaloniki. They are two contemporary Greek Poetesses with passionate voices that work from within today’s human condition to describe its pain and pleasure; two voices so similar and yet so different in their expression of the internal. They are two poetesses who try to blend both pain and pleasure into an acceptable concept.
Yannis Ritsos is the most prolific 20th century Greek poet. He has written 117 books of prose, poetry and translations. I first met his work as a song back in 1960ies Greece when his poem “Epitaphios” was set in music by the world famous Mikis Theodorakis. Yannis Ritsos was exiled twice in his life for his political views and this was reflected in his early poems, however as he grew into maturity his poetry shifted from the politically motivated poetry into the internationally accepted and recognized marvel that we know today. I am truly proud that his daughter Eri Ritsos was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about my involvement in this translation and after two years of hard work the book became a reality.
xωρίς κορμί, μόνο ψυχή-καπνός για την εστία.
Είχα βέβαια και το κέντημα για παρηγοριά
ύστερα ήταν κι οι μνηστήρες
όμως έπληττα θανάσιμα με τα χοντρά αστεία.
Κάποια ανακούφιση ο Τηλέμαχος,
όμως κι αυτός έψαχνε τον πατέρα.
Ένα βράδυ έκανα έρωτα με έναν υπηρέτη.
Το σώμα του ζεστό ψωμί
έσταζε μέλι και κρασί.
Δεν με πείραξε που έγινε.
Μόνο ότι πεισματικά η Ιστορία το αγνόησε.
I waited and waited
without body, just a soul-smoke
for the fireplace.
Of course I had my yarn for company
then there were the suitors yet
I was bored with their rough jokes.
Telemachus was a relief
although he also searched for his father.
One night I slept with a servant.
His body was like warm bread
dipped in honey and wine.
It happened, it didn’t bother me.
Though purposefully history ignored it.
Η γνώμη του με κέντρισε:
«Είναι φτηνά και άνοστα τα πορνογραφικά έντυπα,
ενώ τα ποιήματά σου διεγείρουν
και συγχρόνως προκαλούν ανάταση ψυχής.
Έχω εξάρτηση, είμαι ναρκομανής με τους στίχους σου».
Ξανασκέφτηκα την άποψή του.
Διόλου αμελητέος αντίπαλος η πορνογραφία,
πανστρατιές με βουλιμία τη διαβάζουν.
Τιμή μου να βγάζω άχρηστα τα έντυπα
και την παραλογοτεχνία της.
His opinion intrigued me:
‘The porno-press is cheap and
tasteless; though your poems
arouse while they generate
certain elation for the soul.
I’m hooked on them, I yearn
for your verses like a druggie.’
I thought of his opinion again.
The porno-press isn’t a negligible
competitor, thousands of people read it.
It was my honour to prove it
useless and illiterate.
Έφυγε γρήγορα τό καλοκαίρι: Δέν προφτάσαμε.
Μεγάλα σύγνεφα κρέμονται πάνω απ’ τά βουνά
σάν προσωπεία αρχαίας τραγωδίας. Τί νά κάνουμε;
Τά παπούτσια μας, όσο παλιά, πάντοτε μάς στενεύουν λίγο.
Μάς στενεύει τό φώς, μάς στενεύει τό σύγνεφο.
Φτάνουμε μπροστά σ’ ένα ανθισμένο δέντρο
μπροστά στό ψωμί, μπροστά στό νερό,
μπροστά στό πιό αυριανό παράθυρο
κάπως αμήχανοι, λαχανιάζοντας,
μέ τήν αίσθηση μιάς αιώνιας καθυστέρησης.
Τόσο μακρυά τραβήξαμε, λοιπόν;
The summer ended quickly. We ran out of time.
Big clouds hung on top of the mountains
like masks of an ancient tragedy. What should we do?
Our shoes, whatever old, are always a bit tight.
The light is narrow, the cloud is cinched down.
We stop in front of the bloomed tree
in front of bread, water
before tomorrow’s window
somewhat embarrassed, panting
with the emotion of an eternal delay.
Have we truly come this far?
About the translator:
Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Master’s for the Arts in Literature. He is recognized for his ability to convey images and thoughts in a rich and evocative way that tugs at something deep within the reader. He graduated from the Panteion University of Athens with a diploma in political Sciences. He studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Romania, Australia, and Greece.