$15.00 • 86 pp. • 2010
Translated from the Greek by
John Sakkis and Angelos Sakkis
WINNER: 2011 NCBA (Northern California Book Award) for Poetry Translation
“The vivacity of the language is important; as a language dies out so does its cultural continuity. Idioms, phrases, and simple humor are lost along with a language, features that find no place in a new language.”
—Amy Henry on Gently Read Literature
“I can sense a historical aspect moving forward within the book. It takes me from business districts to coffee shops throughout the march of progress. Near the end of the book, Agrafiotis writes, ‘many roads, many directions/the same outcome’–and I sense that the outcome is the end of the world, and I am drawn into the book to find out how he brings about this chilling effect.”
—Adam Robinson for HTML Giant
“who assigns names? / the name itself” Demosthenes Agrafiotis’s name assigned him a superb origin myth. He was born in the Agrafa, a region historically so remote its inhabitants eluded conquest and were thus undocumented or ‘unwritten’ in the records of the empire, a place that consequently became a refuge for forbidden Greek literacy. Agrafiotis translates the paradox of his inheritances into poetry that collaborates brilliantly with the autonomy of the sign, animating its multiple lives and orchestrating the resonances of its indeterminacy. Mining the opaque strata between ‘epigrams on the gray marble’ and what is ‘written with chalk/ on the banks of subterranean cause,’ Maribor gives us both artifact–of the ephemera of communication, institutions, power–as well as blueprint for imagining an ‘alphabet of the future.’ A master of the contemporary hermetic, Agrafiotis can bring to light in one stroke both the evanescence and endurance of the writing on the wall, the play between these inherent to reading. John Sakkis and Angelos Sakkis have performed a great service to English readers with this precise, dynamic translation of one of the most important experimentalists working today.”
“As a North American I can only nod in awe at the dark mystery these poems offer, and the chastening, steel-eyed precision of European thought. In the hands of a master poet like Demosthenes Agrafiotis an old world emerges that is both bone-tired and on the cusp of renewal. The Europe of cafés, fashionable clothing, insane nationalist wars, & razor-edged critical thought is crisply present; while beneath it all beats a spiritual pulse as archaic as the Magdalenian caves. Into the tiny fractures of modern economy, philosophy, personality, and history, leak the structures of myth. Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city, riddled with beauty & tragedy, & one site of the ethnic conflicts of the twentieth century. It is also a city that sits at a spiritual center? a center this poem, composed during the tumult of the 1990s, managed to reach. John and Angelos Sakkis are to be congratulated for having brought us a living poem in American-English. They manage to navigate not just contemporary Greek, but French, Italian, Latin, German, and such stunning lines as ‘the sparrow comes and perches / on the chair and leaves a dropping / all words are available / and suitable.’”
Demosthenes Agrafiotis is a Greek poet, visual artist and performer living in Athens, Greece. He is active in the fields of literature and the visual arts with books on poetry and essays, and exhibitions of photography, paintings, drawings, actions and installations. He has a special interest for the relations between art and new technologies, for multimedia or intermedia projects and also for performances. His essays are dedicated to analysis of different artforms as cultural phenomenon. He has participated in various artistic activities, such as publications, small press initiatives, mail-art and alternative art projects. His magazine “Clinamen” (1980-90), co-published by Erato Publications in Athens (1991-1994), has been active for over a decade as an amalgam of Greek poetry and art with work from Europe and America.
John Sakkis John Sakkis’ is a poet and translator living in Oakland, California. He is the author of the book Rude Girl (Blaze Vox 2009). He is the translator of Siarita Kouka’s sequence Benthos (Silas Press, 2004). With Angelos Sakkis he has translated two collections of work by Demothenes Agrafiotis: Chinese Notebook (2010) and Maribor. He received BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Writing And Poetics from The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University.
Angelos Sakkis is a poet, translator and painter living in Oakland, California.