Sunday, November 09, 2008

Calling Tryfon Tolides


Come to the point where, fi nally, you are lost,
wayside-sitting, wind-gazing, train-whistle-listening,

if you want to converse with the invisible presence,
continual, sustained, indwelling, be lost,

be abandoned, so that the heart, the mind, as big
as God, come to the place where you are lost,

so that all your days and the shuttering of each day’s
light and the blue magnetic incomprehensible

jumping and motionless blue of twilight and the fi ne
blackening after, around the incomprehensible

waiting and breathing of trees with their delight-inducing
cloud-depths and freedom-shapes and darting birds,

happen in pure glory, in ineffable joy of consciousness,
so that your senses overfi ll to beautiful muteness,

so that mere being becomes the form of your praise.

Tryfon Tolides

This poetry is spare, direct, empty only in the Stevensian sense of acknowleging the nothing that isn't as well as the nothing that is. I say this to strike back at some criticism I read about the big prize, the blurbs, etc. Come on, Bitter Poets. From Pricilla Becker to Tryfon Tolides and so on, quit saying that deserving poetry didn't deserve the prize based on who was judging, or what nepotism may or may not be at play. Attack the judges if you feel you have to bite someone.
I sent my book around for ages before winning a contest judged in the highly ethical and careful Wick competition and by a judge that I had never met. If anyone might look back over all the entry fees, postage, photocopy fees and general effort and concern, I would be high on that list. But there are so many ways to win fairly or unfairly and so many times that I disagreed with why something "should or should not" have won. It gets crazy-subjective and comes down to the aesthetic of reader and writer. As for the true cases of judges choosing their own, critique that not the poet whose poems, whether they're your kind of thing or not, matter. It's low to go after someone's work and make it seem incompetent because you think a judge knew the poet.

But back to Tolides whose poems are sound and true. Their music is so honest and as Tolides said in an interview regarding his village: The place was full of spirit and tsakna and manitaria and foties and provata and tsoknidhes and kalives and moures and tiria and psychically rich people and the cemetery was alive at night, the presence of the living people always had the effect of making the dead more living, too, they were always in the air and in the houses with us and the animals.

That kind of care in seeing and saving is not ordinary and there is nothing empty about paying attention that way. Check him out. Get ready for a living and dying landscape and breathy cemeteries. And don't say I said these because he's my homeboy. I rarely endorse Greeks. But this one has read my favorites: Seferis, Elytis and Ritsos and even my beloved Tomaz Salamun. He mentions those Greek boys more than he does Cavafy (whom I think is over-rated compared to Elytis, Seferis and Ristos). Take that.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

Go get 'em, girl.