ACT introduces the New Greek Poetry
It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there. - William Carlos Williams
On Tuesday evening, May 22, over 60 people participated at an event co-organized by the English department of ACT-American College of Thessaloniki and the ΣΑΙΞΠΗΡΙΚόΝ bookstore to discuss the new Greek poetry as brought together in the award-winning bilingual anthology “Austerity Measures/Μέτρα Λιτότητας” (Penguin, New York Review Books, Άγρας). It was the anthology’s first ever presentation in Greece, occasioned by its recent Greek edition.
The event was part of a series established by the ACT English department that aims to bring academic discussions beyond a classroom setting, expanding its boundaries.
Joined by six of the anthology’s poets Yorgos Alisanoglou, Vassilis Amanatidis,
Glykeria Basdeki, Thomas Ioannou, Elsa Korneti and Stamatis Polenakis, the anthology’s editor Karen Van Dyck, Hellenic Studies professor at Columbia University and Eleni Godi, Coordinator of the ACT English undergraduate program, set the background frame and presented the history behind the anthology’s conception and creation. Following the reading of a number of poems and brief statements by the participating poets, the prize-winning playwright and poet Sakis Serefas moderated a lively and thought-provoking discussion that centered around complex but necessary questions: how can one define poetry written at the margins; how did the publishing journey of poetry written in the provinces change at the age of internet; what are the implications of what Serefas called “the foreign perspective” to the new Greek poetry, the editor’s perspective, in this case? Finally, he challenged the use of the term “anthology” for this particular work, calling it “composition” instead. Towards the end, poets took turns and offered their reflection on their own presence within “Austerity Measures”.
The wine and cheese small reception that followed the discussion proved an excellent opportunity for further talk; ACT students had the chance to meet their favorite poet, books were signed, poets mingled with the audience and ideas for future events already started flowing.