ARISTEA  PAPALEXANDROU



Translation By
Philip Ramp
INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY KIKI DIMOULA*

Even in her earliest books, Aristea’s Papalexandrou’s work was notable for having a voice all its own; her poetry, metrical times, as an offshoot of free verse showed she was serving tradition successfully. So it is not by chance that particular attention was paid to her second book, Once, Elsewhere, and not only by the critics but – limited as it may be – the poetry reading public, if one can judge by the fact it was on the list of best selling books in the largest Greek newspapers.


Two poetry collections were to follow: Songbirds and Underground: both examples of a style stripped of all ornament, and even though its string sense of irony is connected to a degree to C.K. Cavafy’s or Kostas Karyotakis’ work, it has also transformed that into a completely modern narrative on the absurdity of our period, as it’s set forth by an apparently uninvolved observer from “observation posts” chosen by the poet from among those sued by her worthy ancestors. At the end of 2015 her fifth collection of poetry, It’s Passing Us By, was published, clearly showing her maturity has made an even further advance. Again, existential unease is prominent, coupled with her ironical manner of expression – mockingly at times, even self-mockingly at times as well. But in It’s Overtaking Us , the multi-layered, abstract style is structured with even greater rigor showing it to be indubitably the work of Aristea Papalexandrou, making her thus one of the most important representatives of her poetic generation. As critics have rightly observed: this poet works, in the final analysis, on a dialectical basis: the poem “To Oneself”, directed to an absent you, exemplifies her ability to create hypothetical dialogues, a current that runs strongly throughout her work. And, of course, this dialogue, as a poetic mode, is immediately shown to be with none other than the reader himself who, in the end, remains part of the poet’s space, a participant in what It’s Overtaking Us is so attempting to achieve:



THE FUGITIVE(1) (Stadiou St.)


                                                                muse ingenious…



I know this stranger By the light

spread by her black dress


I should put it the other way round it’s

she who knows me I feel like she’s
been following me since the time
when gasping I wandered about the
city And I heard as if from afar her
silence in my ear: “Speechless rival slip
into Stadiou swiftly”

I the speechless rival
And it rises before me

Lovely this youthful silence
It knows me and I know it
I and her


align="left"> fleshless
in my black dress

As if she wants to tell me something
Consuming me to feed me
Sweetly permeating my being

I. feed her and she feeds me.



THE FUGITIVE (Corner of Omirou and Sachtouri Sts.)


I

[Beauty as in caprice]

The streets I passed she

 passed too Parading by and
 changing dresses colors
 Presenting a fashion show
on the back of the ages
Parading by and changing

 form.


II


[Beauty as in devilish]


She shoves me I stumble

 lightly:
I act like I’ve forgotten
faces
Minor qualms

 are born of a sudden
die after awhile

 more trivial yet.


III


[Beauty as in angel)

I’m caressed

by the grey from the black coat
 that flutters in her sun.


IV

(Beauty as in muse)

She speaks to me and I strain to hear as

 much as needed to erase one word from
 a dead language An epoch.

V


I know her
She’s somewhere on the corner
of Omirou and Sachtouri Sts.
There is heard:

I have not written poems.(2)
She’s telling the truth. She’s

 never written a single word.


PS. Your most well-known unknown person is like someone about to speak again before fleeing once more.

 



INVERTED LOANS



align="left">
                      A God is born. Others die. The Truth neither
                      departed nor arrived: The Error changed
                      Fernando Pessoa


Nevertheless I accept
it’s not a current evil.
Decades I spent weaving endless
commemorations via
memorandums; so what’s new?
My error did not change.
What falls due nourishes me but
not one irrelevant word do

I set aside for it.

The deadline passed.
They know it and I know it.
Perjurer for some time Soaked in
sweat I profit right down to my
silence: sound of an incoherent
sob before the difficult time
before my birth.


The deadline passed.
Me with it.
My error did not change a
wrongdoer borrowing, And I
amid the world’s evil a
unpaid voucher tossing my
guilt away.


DREAM UNBEHELD


Moon gone from the sky lost
in the Pleiades midnight and
time slipping by while I lie
here alone

On a lakeshore so very
long ago a couple was
buried so tight to one
another it was like one
body


No one ever learned the reason for
this death From the silence of the
missing some twined myth and
history on their fingers


Bathed in night’s silver Two
souls a world entire lustrous
sculpture Him and her

No one ever learned who they were
the world a cradle of one flesh Him
and her
Until the earth was stripped bare
by great droughts Pebbles specks
of gold gleamed in the dark and
the couple stark naked without
wounds not a scratch erect
refraction on the round moon
looking at them

which looking at me
punishes me that the
whole world you
 

 

My Voice | Poetry At Our Time | In The Name Of Poetry | Editor's Choice | Our Masters
 
Who We Are | Back Issues | Submission | Contact Us | Home