November 30, 2022

John Kinsella (Australia) 1963

John Kinsella (Australia) 1963

John Kinsella was born in Western Australia in 1963. He is the author of a dozen works of poetry including Full Fathom Five, Syzygy, The Silo, Erratum/Frame(d), The Radnoti Poems, The Undertow: New & Selected Poems, and Lightning Tree. 1997 saw the publication of his experimental novel Genre (international release), and the publication of the English edition of his inter-nationally successful The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony by Arc.

       In 2009 he edited the Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry.

      He was a writer in residence at Churchill College, Cambridge, in 1997. Kinsella was appointed the Richard L Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College in the United States for 2001, where he is now Professor of English. He is also Adjunct Professor to Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, where he is a Principal of the Landscape and Language Centre He will also be involved in the teaching of Australian literature in the Commonwealth Literature course run by the English Department of Cambridge University.

     He is the editor of Salt magazine and Folio (Salt) publishing. He is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and Fellowships, including: The Western Australian Premier's Award for Poetry, The Harri Jones Memorial Prize for Poetry, The John Bray Poetry Award from the Adelaide Festival, Senior Fellowships from the Literature Board of The Australia Council, and a Young Australian Creative Fellowship. His work has been or is being translated into many languages, including French, German, Chinese, and Dutch.

    He was commissioned to create a textual adaptation of Wagner's Götterdämmerung for the 2003 Perth Festival. He is the author of four verse plays (collected as Divinations).

     Kinsella has written several works of fiction as well, including Genre (1997), Post-colonial (2009), Lucida Intervalla (2018), Hollow Earth (2019), and Pushing Back (2021).



The Frozen Sea (Zeppelin Press, 1983); Night Parrots (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1989); The Book of Two Faces (Perth: PICA, 1989); Poems (Australia: Folio, 1991); Ultramarine (Australia: Folio, 1992); Eschatologies (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1991); Full Fathom Five (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1993); Syzygy (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1993); Erratum/Frame(d) (Fremantle, Australia: Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1995); Intensities of Blue (Cambridge, England: Folio, 1995); The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1995 /Arc, 1997) The Radnoti Poems (Cambridge, England: Equipage, 1996); The Undertow: New and Selected Poems (England: Arc, 1996); Lightning Tree (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1996); Graphology (Cambridge, England: Equipage, 1997); Poems 1980-1994 (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1997) / Highgreen, Tarset (England: Bloodaxe, 1998); voice-overs [with Susan Schultz] (Kāne’ohe, Hawaii: Tinfish, 1997); The Hunt (Highgreen, Tarset, England: Bloodaxe, 1998); Kangaroo Virus [with Ron Sims] (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press/Folio, 1998); Sheep Dip (Wicklow, Ireland: Wild Honey Press, 1998); Pine [poems by John Kinsella and Keston Sutherland] (Cambridge, England: Folio (Salt), 1998); alterity: poems without tom raworth (New York/Prague: x-poezie, 1998);The Benefaction (Cambridge, England: Equipage, 1999); Fenland Pastorals (Warwickshire, England: Prest Roots Press, 1999); Visitants (Highgreen, Tarset: Bloodaxe, 1999); Counter-Pastoral (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 1999); Wheatlands [with Dorothy Hewett] (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Center Press, 2000); Zone (Fremantle, Australia: e-matters and Freemantle Arts Center Press, 2000); Zoo [with Coral Hull](Australia: Paperbark Press, 2000); The Hierarchy of Sheep (Highgreen, Tarset, England: Bloodaxe 2000 / Femantle, Australia: Freemantle Arts Centre Press, 2001); Speed Factory (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Center, 2002); Lightning Tree (Todmorden, England: Arc, 2003); Peripheral Light: New and Selected Poems (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003); Doppler Effect: Collected Experimental Poems (Cambridge, England: Salt, 2004); The New Arcadia (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005); Love Sonnets (2006); America, or Glow: (A Poem) (2006); Divine Comedy: Journeys Through Regional Geography (2008); Shades of the Sublime and Beautiful (2008); Jam Tree Gully (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011); Sack (2014); Drowning in Wheat (Picador, 2016)


╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English 2005-2006




We look for that point of contact

that crops up in conversation or letters

or in surveys of vocation;

slow blood

pushing its way round, as if the tunnels before

its limp walls are hollow, expectant.

The purple-veined

spider orchid is a nerve centre, powerboard

we’ll plug into from wherever; steel-capped boots

trample underfoot: wood collectors, shooters,

kids tracking enemies. Where enemies

come from varies with technology;

who writes,

who apportions part of their attention span,

cries just because the music is in a minor key.

Have you seen

the red leschenaultia flowering in islands, focal

cascades amongst the kwongan?

The pupils fire

and the site pale as further away.

Perfidy, ripple

of muscles and component parts urging

a gushing out, a bleeding heart. This is every

one of you built up to a head, to my lungs

so tight I barely breathe, my hands and feet

all maps overlaid, cratered, furrowed, riven, creased;

shadow linked to shadow linked to shadow,

an anthology

of creed and intentionality. Signals, cages, beacons,

the chrysalis of an unopened pink sunray,

or fields in which poisons weren’t understood,

but that’s childhood.

Forty years doles out inlays

and extractions, the draining rock

above cave systems that even now harbour

species of animals unknown to anybody—anybody

at all. Out here, sight shuts down;

inside, scant light amplifies.



Reprinted from Boston Review, November-December 2005. Copyright ©2005 by John Kinsella.

November 29, 2022

Yannis Ritsos (Greece) 1909-1990

Yannis Ritsos (Greece)


Recognized as the foremost poet of the Greek political left, Yannis Ritsos is also one of the most productive poets of the 20th century, with nearly 100 collections of poetry, as well as plays, essays and other works, by the time of his death. He was also an accomplished painter.
     The youngest of four children, Ritsos was born in Monemasiá, on the southwestern tip of Pelopennesos. Despite his prolific output, his personal life was filled with tragedy. At the age of twelve, his older brother Dimitri died of tuberculosis; within three months, his mother also died of the same disease, and he was striken with the disease and suffered throughout his life. His father was sent the asylum in Daphni for the mentally insane, and Ritsos's sister, Loula, suffered from mental problems and was institutionalized in 1936.

     From his late teens to his mid-twenties, Ritsos spent his time in and out of sanatoriums, working when he was well as a dancer, a professional actor, and a poet. With outbreak of World War II, he joined the Greek Democratic Left, and followed its guerilla arm into retreat before the Britsh troops in Northern Greece. In 1945 he headed the Popular Theatre of Macedonia, a theater that exalted the actions of the partisans. During the Greek civil wars, Ritsos was incarcerated as a prisoner in a number of concentration camps, and it was only during the years from 1953 to 1967 that he was free to work full time on his great body of writing.

     With the coup of Papadopoulous in 1967, and the junta attack on Greek liberties, Ritsos was again arrested, imprisoned, and exiled on various islands, where he spent much of his time in military hospitals fighting tuberculosis. Freed, he remained under house arrest until the student revolt of 1974 which brought down the junta.

     The last years of his life were spent between his home in Athens and his house on the island of Samos, where his wife practiced medicine. He died in 1990.


Trakert (Athens: Govostis, 1934); Pyramides (Athens: Govostis, 1935); Epitafios (Athens: Rizospastis, 1936); To tragoudi tes adelfis mou (Athens: Govostis, 1937); Earini Symfonia (Athens: Govostis, 1938); To emvatiro tou okeanou (Athens: Govostis, 1940); Palia Mazurka se rythmo vrohis (Athens: Govostis, 1943); Dokimasia (Athens: Govostis, 1943); O syntrofos (Athens: Govostis, 1945); A anthropos me to garyfallo (Bucharest: Ekdotiko Nea Ellada, 1952); Agrypnia (Athens: Pyxida, 1954); Proino astro (Athens, 1955); He sonata tou selenofotos (Athens: Kedros, 1956); Chroniko (Athens: Kedros, 1957); Hydria (Athens: 1957); Apoheretismos (Athens: Kedros, 1957); Cheimerine diavgeia (Athens: Kedros, 1957); Petrinos Chronos (Burcharest: Politikes Ke Logotechnikes Ekdoseis, 1957); Otan erchetai ho xenox (Athens: Kedros, 1958); Any potachti Politeia (Bucharest: Politikes Ke Logotechnikes Ekdoseis, 1958); He architectoniki ton dentron (Bucharest: Politikes Ke Logotechnikes Ekdoseis, 1958); Hoi gerontisses k 'he thalassa (Athens: Kedros, 1959); To parathyro (Athens: Kedros, 1960); He gefyra (Athens: Kedros, 1960); Ho mavros Hagios (Athens: Kedros, 1961); Poiemata [4 vols] (Athens: Kedros, 1961-75); To nekro spiti (Athens: Kedros, 1962); Kato ap'ton iskio tou vounou (Athens: Kedros, 1962); To dentro tis fylakis kai he gynaikes (Athens: Kedros, 1963); Martyries [2 vols] (Athens: Kedros, 1963-66); Dodeka poiemata gia ton Kavafe (Athens: Kedros, 1963); Paichnidia t'ouranou kai tou nerou (Athens: Kedros, 1964); Philoctetes (Athens: Kedros, 1965); Orestes (Athens: Kedros, 1966); Ostrava (Athens: Kedros, 1967); Petres, Epanalepseis, Kinglidoma (Athens: Kedros, 1972); He epistrofe tes Iphigeneias (Athens: Kedros, 1972); He Helene (Athens: Kedros, 1972); Cheironomies (Athens: Kedros, 1972); Tetarte diastase (Athens: Kedros, 1972); Chrysothemis (Athens: Kedros, 1972); Ismene (Athens: Kedros, 1972); Dekaochto lianotragouda tes pikres patridas (Athens: Kedros, 1973); Diadromos kai skala (Athens: Kedros, 1973); Graganda (Athens: Kedros, 1973); Ho afanismos tis milos (Athens: Kedros, 1974); Hymnos kai threnos gia tin Kypro (Athens: Kedros, 1974); Kapnismeno tsoukali (Athens: Kedros, 1974); Kodonostasio (Athens: Kedros, 1974); Ho tikhos mesa ston kathrefti [The Wall in the Mirror] (Athens: Kedros, 1974); Chartina (Athens: Kedros, 1974); He Kyra ton Ambelion (Athens: Kedros, 1975); Ta Epikairika 1945-1969 (Athens: Kedros, 1975); He teleftea pro Anthropou Hekatontaetia (Athens: Kedros, 1975); Hemerologhia exorias (Athens: Kedros, 1975); To hysterografo tis doxas (Athens: Kedros, 1975); Mantatoforos (Athens: Kedros, 1975); To thyroreio (Athens: Kedros, 1976); To makrino (Athens: Kedros, 1977); Gignesthai (Athens: Kedros, 1977); Epitome [selection of poems] (Athens: Kedros, 1977); Loipon? (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Volidoskopos (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Toichokolletes (Athens: Kedros, 1978); To soma kai to haima (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Trochonomos (Athens: Kedros, 1978); He pyle (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Monemavassiotisses (Athens: Kedros, 1978); To teratodes aristourhima (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Phaedra (Athens: Kedros, 1978; To roptro (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Mia pygolampida fotizei ti nychta (Athens: Kedros, 1978); Grafe tyflou (Athens: Kedros, 1979); 'Oneiro kalokerinou messimeriou (Athens: Kedros, 1980); Diafaneia (Athens: Kedros, 1980); Monochorda (Athens: Kedros, 1980); Ta erotica (Athens: Kedros, 1981); Syntrofica tragoudia (Athens: Synchroni Epochi, 1981); Hypokofa (Athens: Kedros, 1982); Italiko triptycho (Athens: Kedros, 1982); Moyovassia (Athens: Kedros, 1982); To choriko ton sfougarhadon (Athens: Kedros, 1983); Teiresias (Athens: Kedros, 1983); Arga, poli argá mésa sti nihta (Athens: Eri Ritsou and Kedros, 1991).


Romiossini: The Story of the Greeks (Paradise, California: Dustbooks, 1969); Poems, trans. by Alan Page (Oxford: Oxonian Press, 1969); Romiossini and Other Poems (Madison, Wisconsin: Quixote Press, 1969); Gestures and Other Poems 1968-1970, trans. by Nikos Stangos (London: Cape Goliard Press/New York: Grossman, 1971); Contradictions, trans. by John Stathatos (Rushden, Northamptonshire: Sceptre Press, 1973); Eighteen Short Songs of the Bitter Motherland, Amy Mims (St. Paul, Minnesota: North Central, 1974); The Moonlight Sonata, trans. by John Stathatos (New Maiden, Surrey: Tangent, 1975); The Corridor and Stairs, trans. by Nikos Germanacos (Curragh, Ireland: Goldsmith Press, 1976); The Fourth Dimension: Selected Poems, trans. by Rae Dalven (Boston: Godine, 1976); Chronicle of Exile, trans. by Minas Savvas (San Francisco: Wire Press, 1977); Ritsos in Parenthesis, trans. by Kimon Friar (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979); Scripture of the Blind, trans. by Kimon Friar and Kostas Myrsiades (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1979); Subterranean Horses, trans. by Minas Savvas (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1980); The Lady of the Vineyards, trans. by Apostolos N. Athanassakis (New York: Pella, 1981); Erotica: Small Suite in Red Major, Naked Body, Carnal Word, trans. by Kimon Frair (Old Chatham, New York: Sachem Press, 1982); Selected Poems, trans. by Edmund Keeley (New York: Ecco Press, 1983); The House Vacated, trans. by Minas Savvas (La Jolla, California: Parentheses Writing Series, 1989); Selected Poems 1938-1988, edited and trans. by Kimon Friar and Kostas Myrsiades (Brockport, New York: BOA Editions, 1989); The Fourth Dimension, trans. by Peter Green and Beverly Bardsley (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993); Late Into the Night: The Last Poems of Yannis Ritsos, trans. by Martin McKinsey (Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Press/Field Translation Series, 1995)

A Small Invitation

Come to the luminous beaches─he murmured to himself
here where the colors are celebrating─look─
here where the royal family never once passed
with its closed carriages and its official envoys.

Come, it won't do for you to be see─he used to say─
I am the deserter from the night
I am the breacher of darkness
and my shirt and pockets are crammed with sun.

Come─it's burning my hands and my chest.
Come, let me give it to you.

And I have something to tell you
which not even I must hear.

Athens, 1938

Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar

from Romiosini


Thus with the sun breasting the sea that whitewashes the opposite
shore of day,
the latching and pangs of thirst are reckoned twice and three times over,
the world wound is reckoned from the beginning,
and the heart is roasted dry by the heat like Cytherian onions left by
the door.

As time passes, their hands begin to resemble the earth more,
as time goes by, their eyes resemble the sky more and more.

The oil jar has emptied. A few lees on the bottom. And the dead mouse.
The mother's courage has emptied together with the clay pitcher and
the cistern.
The gums of the wilderness are acrid with gunpoweder.

Where can oil be found now for St. Barbara's oil-wick,
where is there mint now to incense the golden icon of the twilight,
where is there a bit of bread for the night-beggar to play her
star-couplets for you on her lyre?

In the upper fortress of the island the barbery figs and the asphodels
have gorwn rank.
The earth is ploughed up by cannon fire and graves.
The bombed-out Headquarters gapes, patched by sky. There is not the
slightest room
for more dead. There is no room for sorrow to stand in and braid her hair.

Burnt houses that with eyes gouged out scan the enmarbled sea
and bullets wedged in the walls
like knives in the ribcate of the saint tied to a cypress tree.

All day long the dead bask on their backs in the sun,
and only when ight falls do soldiers drag themselves on their bellies
over smoked stones,
and with their nostrils search for the air beyond death,
search for the shoes of the moon as they chew a pieace of bootleather,
strike at a rock with thier fists in hopes a knot of water will flow,
but the wall is hollow on the other side
and once again they hear the shell twisting and turning as it strikes
and falls into the sea
and once again they hear the screams of the wounded before the gate.

Where can one go now? Your brother is calling you.
The night is built everywhere with the shadows of alien ships.
The streets are barricaded with rafters.
There are ways open only for the high mountains.
And they curse the ships and bite their tongues
to hear their pain that as yet has not turned to bone.

On the parapets the slain captains stand guard at the fortress;
their flesh is melting away under their clothing. Eh, brother, haven't
you tired?
The bullet in your heart has budded,
five hyacinths have poked out their heads in the armpit of the day
breath by breath the musk-fragrance tells you the legend─don't you
tooth by tooth the would speaks to you of life,
the cammomile planted in the filthy of your large toe
speaks to you of the beauty of the world.

You take hold of the land. It is yours. Damp with brine.
Yours is the sea. When you uproot a hair from the head of silence
the fig tree drips with bitter milk. Wherever you may be, the sun sees you.

The Evening Star twists your soul in its fingers like a cigarette,
as it is, you smoke your soul lying on your back.
wetting your left hand in the starlight,
your gun glued to your right hand like your betrothed
to remember that the sun has never forgotten you
when you take out your old letter from your inner pocket
as you unfold the moon with your burned fingers you will read of
gallantry and glory.

Then you will climb to the highest outpost of your island
and using the star as a percussion cap, you will fire in the air
above the walls and the masts
above the mountains that stoop like wounded infantrmen
only that you may boo at ghosts until they scurry under the blanket's

You will fire a shot into the bosom of the sky to find the asure mark
somewhat as though you were trying the find the ripped of a woman
somewhere on her blouse, and who tomorrow will suckle your child,
somehow as though you were finding, after many years, the knob on the
outer door of your ancestral home.

Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar

Summer Noon at Karlovasi

Melted iron, noon, stone shadows.
Cicadas and cicada. Hammer blows at the blacksmith's.
Veins of water lurking under the stones.
The cupola of the closed church glitters.
Insufficient fullness─he said. And there is no one to speak,
there is no one to hear. The passing of a seagull:
a sudden burst of semen. And immediately after,
that unaccountablje, inexplicable repentence. Under the mulberry tree
a very significant thud was heard as the donkey
flipped one of its ears to chase away a fly.

Athens, Dhiminió, Sámos, 1953-1957

Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar

The Same Meaning

Experienced words, dense, defined,
indefinite, insistent, simple, mistrustful─
useless memories, pretexts, pretexts,
the stress on modesty─stones supposedly,
dwellings supposedly, weapons supposedly─the handle of the door,
handle of the pitcher, table with a vase,
tidy bed─smoke. Words─
you beath them on air, on wood, on marble,
you beat them on paper─nothing; death.

Knot your tie more tightly. Like that.
Be silent. Wait. Like that. Like that.
Easy, easy, in the narrow niche, there
behind the stairs, flat against the wall.

─Translated from the Greek by N. C. Germanacos

The Stairs

He ascended and descended the stairs. Little by little
the going up and the coming down blurred in his tiredness,
took on the same meaning─no meaning at all─the same point
on a revolving wheel. And he, motionless,
tied to the wheel, with the illusion he was traveling,
feeling the wind combing his hair back,
observing hiscompanions, successfully disguised
as busy sailors, pulling nonexistent oars,
plugging their ears with wax, though the Sirens
had died at least three thousand years before.

January-June, 1970

Translated from the Greek by N. C. Germanacos


The dead nailed to the walls, next to the advertisements
of state bonds; the dead propped on the pavements,
on the wooden platforms of the notables, with flags, with helmets,
carboard masks.
The dead
have nowhere to hide anymore, they can't command
their dry bones (negotiable deaths, boxes
liften by winches, yellow paper with pins). The dead
are more endangered.
And he, prudent, with his umbrella,
walking high on the electric wires, a tightrope walker
above the parade, with a handkerchief tied over his eyes,
as the first raindrops began to fall.
The the storm burst.
The trumpeters were shouting to the women to wring the flags dry,
but they had locked themselves in the basements and had swallowed
their keys.

March-October 1971

─Translated from the Greek by Andonis Decavalles

The Uncompromising

Streets, avenues, signs, doors,
dust, smoke, a tree, self-interest. It was I
who threw the ring into the plate. Every night the beer pubs
open and close with calculated noise. The windows
are opaque with golden letters. The waiters have gone
to the toilets for a smoke. The other man is tired,
gazes at the floor or the wall, avoids seeing,
avoids showing, avoids naming. Every word
is a betrayal. On the billboard table
the flabby woman is lying naked, hinding
her eaten face in her scant hair
as large flies with cut wings walk on her breasts.

Athens, April 27, 1971

─Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar

Naked Face

Cut the lemon and let two drops fall into the glass;
look there, the knives beside the fish on the table─
the fish are red, the knives are black.
All with a knife between their teeth or up their sleeves, thrust in
their books or their breeches.
The two women have gone crazy, they want to eat the men,
they have large black fingernails, they comb their unwashed hair
high up, high up like towers, froom which the five boys
plunge down one by one. Afterward they come down the stairs,
draw water from the well, wash themselves, spread out their thighs,
thrust in pine cones, thrust in stones. And we
nod our heads with a "yes" and a "yes"─we look down
at an ant, a locust, or on the statue of Victory─
pine tree caterpillars saunter on her wings.
The lack of holiness─someone said─is the final, the worst kind of
it's exactly such knowledge that now reamins to be called holy.

Athens, September 30, 1972

Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar and Kostas Myrsiades

The Distant

O distant, distant; deep unapproachable; receive always
the silent ones in their absence, in the absence of the others
when the danger from the near ones, from the near itself, burdens
during nights of promise, with many colored lights in the gardens,
when the half-closed eyes of lions and tigers scintillate
with flashing green omissions in their cages
and the old jester in front of the dark mirror
washes off his painted tears so that he can weep─
O quiet ungrantable, you with the long, damp hand,
quiet invisible, without borrowing and lending, without obligations,
nailing nails on the air, shoring up the world
in that deep inaction where music reigns.

January-February, 1975

─Translated from the Greek by Edmund Keeley

from Carnal Word


The day is mad. Mad is the house. Mad the bedsheets.
You are also mad; you dance with the white curtain in your arms;
you beat on a saucepan above my papers as on a tambourine;
the poems run through the rooms; the burnt milk smells;
a crystal horse looks out of the window. Wait─I say─
we've forgotten Phymonóis' tripod in the woodcutters' guild hall;
the oracles are turned upside down. We've forgotten yesterday's
bleeding moon,
the newdug earth. A carriage passes by laden with oleanders.
Your fingernails are rose petals. Do not justify yourself. In you closet
you have placed
tulle bags filled with lavender. The sun's umbrellas have gone mad,
they've become entangled with the wings of angels. You wave your
whom are you greeting? What people are you greeting? ─ The whole world.
A brown water-turtle has comfortably settled on your knees;
wet seaweed stirs on its sculptured shell. And you dance.
A hoop from a barrel of olden times rools down the hill,
falls into the stream, tossing off drops that wet your feet,
and also wet your chin. Stop that I may wipe you.
But in your dancing, you do not hear me. Well then, duration
is a whirlwind, life is cyclical, it has no ending. Last night
the horsement passed by. Naked girls on the horses' rumps;
perhaps that is why the wild geese were screaming in the bellow tower.
We did not hear them
as the horses' hoofs sank in our sleep. Today before your door
you found a silver horseshow. You hung it above the lintel. My luck─
you shout─
my luck─you shout, and dance. Beside you the tall mirror is also dancing,
glittering with a thousand bodies and the statue of Hippólytos crowned with
My parrot has gone─you say as you dance─and no one imitates my voice any
more; aye, aye─
this voice from within me comes out of the forest of Dodóna.
Clear lakes rise in the air with all their white waterlilies,
with all their underwater vegetation. We cut reeds,
build a golden hut. You clamber up the roof.
I grasp you by the ankles with both hands. You don't come down.
You fly. You fly into the blue. You drag me with you
as I hold you by the ankles. From your shoulder
the large blue towel falls on the water; for a while it floats
and then with wide folds sinks, leaving on the surface
a trembling pentagram. Don't go higher─I shout─. No higher.
And suddenly
with a mute thump we both land on the mythical bed. And listen─
in the street below strikers are passing by with placards and flags.
Do you hear? We're late. Take the handkerchief you dance with, too.
Let's go. Thank you, my love.

Athens, February 15-18, 1981

─Translated from the Greek by Kimon Friar

Closing Words

The unhappy girl gnaws at her collar.
So long ago. Our mothers are dead.
A hen cackles in the rubble.
We hand no answers. Later,
we stopped asking. Night was falling,
wind blowing. A straw hat tumbled
out of the stands of the empty Stadium. Below,
in the river,
waternsakes and turtles roamed at will.
And maybe this would serve as closure
for a story already remoted from us, strange.

Karlóvasi, 7-6-87

─Translated from the Greek by Martin McKinsey


"A Small Invitation," VI from "Romiossini," "Summer Noon at Karlovaski," "The Same Meaning," "The Stairs," "Dangers," "The Uncompromising," "Naked Face," "The Distant," and X from "Carnal Word,"
Reprinted from Selected Poems: 1938-1988, trans. by Kimon Frair and Kostas Myrsiades (Brockport, New York: BOA Editions, 1989. Copright ©1989 by BOA Editions. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

"Closing Words"
Reprinted from Late into the Night: The Last Poems of Yannis Ritsos, trans. by Martin McKinsey. Copyright ©1995 by Oberlin College. Reprinted by permission of Martin McKinsey.

pyright ©1995 by Oberlin College. Reprinted by permission of Martin McKinsey.

November 28, 2022

Susana Thénon (Argentina) 1937-1991

Susana Thénon (Argentina)



Born in 1937, Argentine poet Susana Thénon was also a translator and artistic photographer. Her early collections, Edad sin tregua (1958), Habitante de la nada (1959), and De lugares extraños, contained references to Biblical and classical themes.

    Influenced by the Italian I Novissmi poets and by figures such as the Brazilian poets Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Manuel Bandeira, as well as others, Thénon broke with her previous work in her 1984 collection, distancias. In this work Thénon pushed her spare and terse style further than previously, and explored a work, as she put it, in which she "entered a strange zone from which it would be difficult to return." In 1987 she continued that work in ova completa, and in other works, Ensayo general and papyrus, incomplete at the time of her 1991 death.

     In 1988 her book Acerca de Iris Scaccheri was published in Buenos Aires by Ediciones Anzilotti.




Edad sin tregua (Buenos Aires: Cooperativa Impresora y Distribuidora, 1958); Habitante de la nada (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Thiriel, 1959); De lugares extraños (Buenos Aires: Carmina, 1967); distancias (Buenos Aires: Torres Agüero Editor, 1984); ova completa (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1987)




distancias / distances, trans. by Renata Treitel (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994); Ova Completa, trans. by Rebekah Smith (Brooklyn, Ugly Duckling Press, 2021).


For an interview with Thénon, go here:

For another selection of poems, go here:



from distancias





the wheel has stopped stop-

two three two three two the wheel

has stopped broken inside

only wood eyes enter

only memory conic

only memory face to the sky it is not possible

that she should still burn more should burn still more

burn alone eternal as if the wind (something)

would not scatter her crumbs her clothes undone

desired body light of the night birds

homicides under the bridge go away cold

(something) in cadence sea

and it whistled and said creature mud

said and laughed trumpet of vein

laughed aimed trembled flesh

and fired bundle



ethereal (something)

and sun (a woman)

hatchets of sun (before the locked door)

scratch the door (looks for her key) it clears

her chest (says in a loud voice) her eye (open to me i) her hand

(calls calls) the edge (no) of the river (no) of blood

(no) of blood that runs away wild thread black with fear

between threshold and door meeting her steps

the wheel has stopped stop-

two three two three two the wheel

has stopped


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel




there's a country (but not mine)

where night is only in the afternoon

(but not ours)

and thus sings a star its free time


throughout death i will think

since dying is not mine

and I still shine with dazzled blood

(there's a country) the dream of falling

(there's a country)

and i with myself (and always)

with love unmoved


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel





the great snake that embraces the world

sleeps you too sleep

i sleep pure of sound

we smile against the desperate and alone

among the flowers no

(you can) no (you cannot) and of the day

it rains shadow dawned you tremble with

death prior to death

i sleep a stranger to the map of the seas here i read

your dream no longer here i read

your wolf-laughter white language i decipher

no (you cannot on)

and now

the drop falls (drink love)

with a whole sky of packed madness


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel









the embrace the embrace in the afternoon

how immortal i have been

and how little the alien future hurts

this stone without rest you were eternal still

you were the last the first the nothing

and nothing but sun your glance my blindness

sun forever yesterday and we turned night

and the embrace was the sea


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel





the night



i shelter unsheltered

i shelter day blind

delicate flammable

i shelter this old shell

among so many other shells

that bursts with stinking fires


and pure reason exalted vertebrates


and the eye grows

ejects fires the hands

and the eye suddenly flesh

goes to meet the unseeing

distills in bars not tears but

iron sharks venereal soup

and the eye of sudden city

gets lost in the museum of wrath

body without funeral

the son rolls like a moon


like that other time

in my creak-filled horror

in my suitcase of bird

the futureless girl

drinks her foolish name


i brood

my light tongue

on this crack

bitter accomplice

of the dayless awakening

i feed on eyelid shine of dead lark


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel





and the words


and the



and the patios that burn

long after the sun

no longer crossed by any evil no

steps embraced


and the patios and the words


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel



(from distancias, 1984)






one of the great evils

that affect wominhood

before they called it stress

and before that strass

or Strauss

it's like a waltz

the shadowless woman stumbled through

there's no drama she's drunk

drunk the bitch




(from ova completa, 1987)


Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel




Selections from distancias

Reprinted from distancias/distances, trans. by Renata Treitel (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994). Copyright ©1994 by Renata Treitel. Reprinted by permission of Sun & Moon Press.



©2002 by Renata Treitel. Reprinted by permission of Renata Treitel.

November 27, 2022

Jules Supervielle (b. Uruguay / France) 1884-1960

Jules Supervielle (born Uruguay / France)



Jules Supervielle was born into a French-Basque family living in Uruguay. Orphaned, he was raised by his uncle, spending his childhood on the pampas, a subject of much of early poetry. At ten he was sent to Paris for his education, and there he attended the Sorbonne for college.

      For a while Supervielle served in the French army, but he developed a heart condition that lasted for the rest of his life. Except for frequent visits to his home city of Montevideo, he remained in France throughout the rest of his life, except for the period during World War II, which he spent in Uruguay.

      Supervielle is known primarily for his personal and imagistically-rich poetry, beginning with his 1925 volume, Gravitations and continuing through his later volumes including Le Forçat innocent, Les Amis inconnus, La Fable du Monde, Oublieuse Mémoire, Naissances and other books of poetry.

     Supervielle was also the author of several works of fiction, Le voleur d'enfants (1926, The Man Who Stole Children) being the most noted of them. He also wrote a pantomime for Jean-Louis Barrault, and scripted nine plays, among which Bolivar formed the basis of the Darius Milhaud opera.

     He died in Paris on May 17, 1960.




Brumes du Passé (no publisher listed, 1901); Comme des Voiliers (Collection de la Poétique, 1910); Les Poèmes de l'Humour Triste (Paris: A la Belle Edition, 1919); Poèmes (Paris: Figuière, 1919); Débarcadères (Paris: Aux Editions de la Revue de L'Amérique Latine, 1922); Gravitations (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1925; revised in 1932); Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Marseille: Cahiers du Sud, 1927); Saisir (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1928); Le Forçat innocent (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1930); Les Amis inconnus (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1934); La Fable du Monde (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1938); Poèmes de la France Malheureuse (Buenos Aires: Editions Amis de Letrres Françaises Sur, 1941); Choix de Poèmes (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1944); 1939-1945. Poèmes (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1946); Choix de Poèmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1947); A la Nuit (Neuchâtel, France: Cahiers du Rhône, 1947); Oublieuse mémoire (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1949); Naissances (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1951); L'Escalier: Poèmes nouveaux (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1956); Le Corps tragique (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1959).




Supervielle, trans. by Teo Savory (Santa Barbara, California: Unicorn Press, 1967); Jules Supervielle: Selected Writings, trans. by James Kirkup, Denise Levertov, and Kenneth Rexroth (New York: New Directions, 1967); Selected Poems and Reflections on the Art of Poetry, trans. by George Bogin (New York: Sun, 1985).


For a reading in French of "Quartre heures," click here:


Without Walls

to Ramón Gómez de la Serna


The whole sky is stained with ink like the fingers of a child.

Where is the school and the schoolbag?

Hide this hand─it, too, has black stains─

Under the wood of this table.

The faces of forty children share my solitude.

What have I done with the ocean,

In what aerial desert did the flying fish die?

I'm sixteen all over the world and on the high mountains,

I'm sixteen on the rivers and around Notre Dame

And in the classroom at Janson-de-Sailly

Where I see time pass on the dial of my palms.

The noise of my heart prevents me from listening to the teacher.

I'm already afraid of life with its hobnailed shoes

And my fear makes me so ashamed that my glance wanders

Into a distance where remorse can't appear.

The walk of the horses on the asphalt shines in my damp soul

And is reflected upside down intertwined with rays.

A fly disappears in the sands of the ceiling,

The Latin around us squats and shows us its leprosy─

I don't dare touch another thing on the black wooden table.

When I lift my eyes to the Orient of the teacher's desk

I see a young girl facing us like beauty itself,

Facing us like pain, like necessity.

A young girl sits there, she makes her heart sparkle

Like a jewel full of fever to distant precious stones.

A cloud of boys is gliding toward her lips

Without ever seeming to get closer.

We glimpse her garter, she lives far from pleasures

And her half-naked leg, uneasy, swings back and forth.

Her bosom is so alone in the world that we tremble that she might be cold,

(Is it my voice which is asking if the windows can be shut?)

She would love to love all the boys in the class,

This young girl who has appeared among us

But knowing that she'll die if the teacher discovers her

She begs us to be discreet so she can live for a moment

And be a pretty girl in the midst of adolescents.

The sea in a corner of the globe counts and recounts its waves

And pretends to have more of them than there are stars in the sky.


Translated from the French by George Bogin


(from Gravitations, 1925)



Whisper in Agony


Don't be shocked,

Close your eyes

Until they turn

Truly to stone.


Leave your heart alone

Even if it stops.

It beats solely for itself

from a secret inclination of its own.


Your hands will spread out

from the frozen block

and your brow will be bare

as a great square between

two occupied armies.


Translated from the French by Douglas Messerli


(from Le Forçat innocent, 1930)



Beautiful Monster of the Night


"Beautiful monster of the night, palpitating gloom

You display a wet snout from outer space

You approach, give me your paw

And pull it back as if seized with doubt.

I am a friend of your dark gestures, nonetheless,

My eyes plumb the depths of your impenetrable coat.

Can't you see me as a brother of the dark

In this world living like ordinary folk, but of the next,

My purest song kept to myself.

Go, I also know silence's torment

With a hasty heart, by patience wornout,

Knocking without an answer on death's doors.

─But every once in a while death replies

When your heart is so scared it beats against its walls,

And you're from a world where they're afraid to die."

Eye to eye, with little steps in retreat,

The monster withdrew into rash shade,

And the sky, as always, studded itself with stars.


Translated from the French by Douglas Messerli


(from La Fable du Monde, 1938)





"Within Walls"

English language translation copyright (c) George Bogin. Reprinted by permission of George Bogin.


"Whisper in Agony" and "Beautiful Monster of the Night"

English language copyright ©2003 by Douglas Messerli. Reprinted by permission of Douglas Messerli.