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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 1st, 2010
by Demosthenes Agrafiotis
Translated by John Sakkis and Angelos Sakkis
Poetry 86pgs $15.00 ISBN: 978-0942996-70-8
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.”
“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 with the autonomy of the sign, animating its multiple lives and orchestrating the resonances of its indeterminacy. 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 c contemporary hermetic, Agrafiotis can bring to light in one stroke both the evanescence and endurance of the writing on the wall.
Demosthenes Agrafiotis is a Greek poet, visual artist and performer living in Athens, Greece. His book Chinese Notebook, also translated by John and Angelos Sakkis is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2010.
John Sakkis’ is a poet and translator living in San Francisco. He is the author of the book Rude Girl (Blaze Vox 2009). Angelos Sakkis is a translator and painter living in Oakland, California.
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