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Poetry could contribute to saving the world

21 March 2012 / 21:03:26  GRReporter
4593 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

With a procession in central streets of Athens and quotes from poems of great Greek poets, their contemporary followers and representatives of other arts celebrated World Poetry Day.

"Words must be hammered like strong nails so the wind cannot take them away" by Manolis Anagnostakis. "Come everyone help raise the sun over Greece, come everyone help raise the sun over the world!" by Angelos Sikelianos. "If you cannot find spring, make it" by Odysseas Elytis.

"The poems will be our slogans," said the Greek poets, who were protesting against the crisis. They achieved their goal of holding a protest different from others. Poets gathered outside the Yiannos bookshop on Stadiou Street, located opposite the Atikon cinema that had been burnt during the latest unrest. The bookshop itself had also been the object of attacks, the most serious of which were in May 2010, when three people lost their lives in the Marfin bank opposite from Molotov petrol bombs thrown at the building.

With music, dance, and Elytis' verse as the main slogan "make a leap faster than decay", about 300 participants headed to the National Library building, and then, in Omirou Street read poems. During this time, young people were handing out sheets of paper with poems by other poets. The aim was clear: to call on every citizen who defends culture and its values.

Poems were read before the building of the University of Athens in the near vicinity and in Syntagma Square. Then artistic performances of the dancers from the National School of Dance followed.

Poets protested against anything negative causing a crisis in society. Against the corrupt political system the failure of which in their opinion has caused the moral, cultural and economic crisis as well as against all who take advantage of this to frighten and vandalize.

In an era in which poetry is part of the life of a small circle of people, GRReporter asked a modern poet about its importance.

Stathis Koutsounis – a philologist and member of the Union of Writers is educated in law, Greek philology and classical music. Author of several books of poetry, one of them entitled "Insects in intensive care" was offered for the prize of the "Read" poetry magazine. He publishes not only poems but also critical essays, articles and book reviews. His poems are part of anthologies and have been translated into English, German, French and Iranian.

Mr. Koutsounis, it seems that people do not read poetry or at least do not read as much as in the past. What causes this? How much are the authors to blame and how much the readers?

Indeed, today, readers of poetry are few in number. Somehow, those who write poetry are even more than those who read it. But I do not think poetry was enjoyed by a large number of readers in the past either. This is due to the fact that poetry is not an easily understandable art. It requires training and a specific relationship with words. The figures of speech used by the poet, exploring the possibilities of language and the creation of unique worlds, require that the reader has perception, which is not easy to obtain without effort.

On the other hand, although poetry is addressed to the reader, it is precisely the reader who should get closer to it. Because in this way, the good reader becomes a co-author. It as another matter whether all that is written and defined or resembles poetry is actually poetry.

How is today's poetry associated with social reality? Is it true that older generations of poets were closer to society than the poets of today are?

I think the older generations were actually closer to society, but it depends on the social conditions of each era. Today's society is more selfish, more closed, more individualistic. People are more isolated and scared. All this leads to a more personal poetry.

Is there something that the readers are trying to find in an author, because they think his or her works are lacking it?

Each reader has his own requirements. But it is impossible to write customized poetry. Through their works poets express their inner needs and personal perceptions which cannot possibly satisfy all readers.

Is poetry threatened by the technological revolution and the Internet?

I do not think so. The beauty of words and the poetic universe born through creativity cannot be threatened by machines.

What is a poem to you?

It is an aesthetic event and a whole world, different and unique.

Can poetry save the world?

No, it cannot. But that is not its purpose. However, it can make it better and especially fill it with beauty! In accordance with Dostoevsky's maxim that "beauty will save the world", we could say that poetry indirectly, as a generator of beauty, could contribute to saving the world.


Tags: World Day of PoetryProtestOdysseas ElytisPoemsArt
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