As part of our mission to promote contemporary Greek art to an international audience, we are very excited to introduce a new column on our blog dedicated to Greek poetry translated into English. The column is edited by Greek poet, translator and editor, Panayotis Ioannidis. In the following paragraphs he offers a brief sketch of modern Greek poetry and introduces the und. Poetry project. At the end of this article you will find a list of all the poems published in 2019, which shall be updated monthly.
Poetry-writing in Greek has continued ceaselessly from around 800 BCE until today: from Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad to the –in part mislabelled– "poets of the crisis". As und.Athens’s mission is to highlight contemporary visual art in Greece, its poetry section similarly aims to showcase "younger" poets of Greek origin and/or writing in Greek – since (to risk a long tongue-twister) there are Greek poets writing in languages other than Greek; poets writing in Greek but living outside of Greece; as well as, naturally, poets –whether Greek or not– living in Greece and writing in Greek.
All poets to be featured here, first appeared in print from the 1990’s onwards. Since the 1960’s, literature historians and critics have tended to assign a poetic “generation” to each decade: thus, there are poets of the 1960’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s. But in the 1990’s, Greek poetry seems to have dropped off the radar: its centuries-old, traditionally unquestioned supremacy yielded for the first time to that of prose – and more specifically to the long and, more often than not, mainstream novel. Critics and readers focused back on poetry with the advent of the "crisis" in 2008. And it is this same "crisis" that seems to have re-kindled international interest in contemporary Greek poetry, with anthologies appearing in several languages. To stay with English, we can mention Theodore Chiotis’s Futures - Poetry of the Greek Crisis (Penned in the Margins, London, 2015) and Karen Van Dyck’s Austerity Measures - The New Greek Poetry (Penguin, London, 2016; New York Review Books, New York, 2017).
Poems, of course –and poems very much worth reading– had not suddenly stopped being written from the early 1990’s to the late 2000’s; far from it. und. Poetry’s intention, therefore, is to present the great and colourful diversity of current Greek poetry written by poets whose ages now range from their 20’s to their early 50’s. Whether lyrical, narrative, sarcastic or political –and usually abounding in vivid, original, imagery– its wide range, as we hope will be demonstrated, is bound to include something that will appeal to –and, hopefully, fruitfully intrigue– every lover of the visual arts, whose contemporary tendencies and aspirations are actually not that remote from that of poetry.
und. Poetry 2019 entries by month:
January — Olga Papakosta
February — Marios Chatziprokopiou