Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Το λεωφορείο που δεν σταμάτησε...


Έξω από την σχολή Κωφών στο Πανόραμα Θεσσαλονίκης, βρίσκεται η στάση λεωφορείων που φέρει το ίδιο όνομα. Έχει μείνει αναλλοίωτη στη μνήμη μου η εικόνα, πάνε πολλά χρόνια τώρα, όταν υπηρετώντας τη στρατιωτική μου θητεία, στο στρατόπεδο Παπαπασχάλη μεταξύ Χορτιάτη και Πανοράματος, βρέθηκα απέναντι από αυτή τη στάση. Είχαμε παρκάρει το στρατιωτικό όχημα στο πλάι του δρόμου να κάνουμε ένα τσιγάρο πριν φτάσουμε πάνω. Είδα τότε να βγαίνει από τη σχολή και να πηγαίνει στη στάση του λεωφορείου ένα παιδί. 'Οταν βρίσκεσαι μόνος μέσα στη σιγή, ο χρόνος φαίνεται πολλές φορές ότι παγώνει. Η απουσία του ήχου, είναι στιγμές που σε ακουμπάει σε βελούδινα μαξιλάρια. Πρέπει με τις υπόλοιπες αισθήσεις σου, τέλεια κουρδισμένες, να κάνεις εσύ το πρώτο βήμα κάθε φορά για να πας να συναντήσεις αυτόν τον άλλο κόσμο που δεν σταματά να κινείται γύρω σου μέσα στην σιωπηλή ένταση. Το παιδί στράφηκε προς τα εκεί που ερχόταν ο δρόμος προσπαθώντας να διακρίνει το μπλε χρώμα το λεωφορείου από μακριά. Πρέπει να πέρασαν είκοσι πέντε λεπτά. Ήταν άνοιξη και το μάτι του παιδιού έπεσε παραπέρα στο δασάκι με τα πεύκα που μύριζαν. Έκανε μετά ένα γύρο και κατέληξε πάνω στο λουλουδιασμένο θάμνο πίσω από τη στάση. Γύρισε την πλάτη του στο δρόμο μια στιγμή. Τότε ένιωσε το διαφορετικό ρεύμα του αέρα. Γυρίζοντας, είδε ξαφνικά το λεωφορείο να περνάει με ταχύτητα μπροστά από τη στάση. Το λεωφορείο έφυγε. Ύψωσε τα χέρια και μια κραυγή ακούστηκε που σαν να μπέρδεψε εκείνη τη στιγμή τα νήματα του χρόνου και έκανε την εικόνα να επαναλαμβάνεται σε αργή κίνηση στη μνήμη μου για πάντα.

(Με αφορμή ένα πραγματικό περιστατικό που μας αφηγήθηκε ο Ζ.Κ.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"The Armada" - A poem by Brian Patten

Encouraged by the great Philip Larkin, Brian Patten joined Roger McGough and Adrian Henri to form the Liverpool poets. Their main aim was to make poetry immediate and accessible for their audience. Brian Patten's first poetry collection "Little Johnny's Confession" was published in 1967. Since then, he has published numerous poetry collections as well many books, novels and poems for children as well as prose and drama for stage and radio. He has been described as a highly engaging performer, and gives readings frequently. Over the years he has read alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee and Robert Lowell. 

When Brian Patten was asked what poetry can do, his reply was: "I feel that poetry permits us to wake up our memory and association and view familiar things in a different way. If I was to define poetry, I would say, 'One of the many things a poem can do / Is remind us what we forgot we knew'". 

This is not a poem only about loss. Brian Patten goes much deeper, exploring themes such as childhood, the passing of time and the way we conceive the present and the past. What makes this poem so powerful is the truth that resonates in every word. The simplicity of every line, the choice of words, the perfect structure and the lucid awareness of the phrase, in the middle of the poem, defining time revisited.

The Armada (1996)

Long, long ago

when everything I was told was believable
and the little I knew was less limited than now,
I stretched belly down on the grass beside a pond
and to the far bank launched a child's armada.
A broken fortress of twigs,
the paper-tissue sails of galleons,
the waterlogged branches of submarines -
all came to ruin and were on flame
in that dusk-red pond.
And you, mother, stood behind me,
impatient to be going,
old at twenty-three, alone,
thin overcoat flapping.
How closely the past shadows us.
In a hospital a mile or so from that pond
I kneel beside your bed and, closing my eyes,
reach out across forty years to touch once more
that pond's cool surface,
and it is your cool skin I'm touching;
for as on a pond a child's paper boat
was blown out of reach
by the smallest gust of wind,
so too have you been blown out of reach
by the smallest whisper of death,
and a childhood memory is sharpened,
and the heart burns as that armada burnt,
long, long ago.

Taken from Brian Patten's poetry collection "Armada" published in 1996 by Flamingo


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Impressions of India in 2 short films by Brandon Li

Brandon Li, a talented young traveller, director and editor, in two really short films, captures all the mystery, beauty, harshness and poetry of the moment, of everyday life in India. Today, affordable technology has brought artistic expression via cinematography at the reach of everyone. But it's still down to what you do with the means available, what part of yourself is reflected in the lens, your sensibility, imagination and drive to create. 
   

Gateway to the Ganges from Brandon Li on Vimeo.


My Kochi from Brandon Li on Vimeo.

"Home Movie" - A poem by Samuel Menashe

Home Movie

Awake at once
No space between
The day and dream
Seen as it runs
Me off the screen
No time to splice
Slices of Life—
I'm wide awake,
No second take.

Taken from the book: "Samuel Menashe, New and Collected Poems - edited by Christopher Ricks" (2009)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Οι ειδήσεις και μια "Ιστορία" του Γιάννη Ρίτσου

Διαβάζοντας πρόσφατα στις ειδήσεις για τα τραγικά, επανωτά αεροπορικά δυστυχήματα, με τόσους ανθρώπους που χάθηκαν μέσα σε μια στιγμή στην απύθμενη θάλασσα, κουβαλώντας μαζί τους σαν άυλες βαλίτσες, ο καθένας την προσωπική του ιστορία, μου ήρθε στη μνήμη ένα γραπτό του Γιάννη Ρίτσου με τίτλο "Ιστορία", από το βιβλίο του "Χειρονομίες" που εκδόθηκε για πρώτη φορά το 1972.

"Ιστορία

Τα σχέδια δε χρησίμευαν σε τίποτα - κάθε τόσο ανατρέπονταν,
όπως εκείνο το λεωφορείο στην εξοχή, - οι πιότεροι σκοτώθηκαν,
τους άλλους τους κουβάλησαν στο πιο κοντινό νοσοκομείο· ένας τροχός
κύλησε κάτου· τον βρήκε ένα παιδί· σκάρωσε πρόχειρα ένα χειραμάξι·
γυρίζει τώρα στο προάστιο· πουλάει πορτοκάλια· τα πορτοκάλια λάμπουν,
ένας σωρός ασήμαντοι ήλιοι. Τόσο απλά περνάμε. Τόσο απλά
μιλάμε, ξεχνάμε, συνηθίζουμε. Τόσο απλά μας ξεχνάνε."

Γιάννης Ρίτσος
"Χειρονομίες" 




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Georg Heym (1887-1912) : German Expressionism's Rebelious Answer to Edgar Allan Poe


On that fateful day, on the 16 of January 1912, Georg Heym's desperate cries for help were suddenly heard echoing through the woods on both sides of the frozen river Havel. His good friend Ernst Balcke had just dissapeared into the cold murky waters of the river as the icy surface suddenly cracked and gave in while they were skating. With the scates still attached to his feet, Heym dived repeatedly under the huge floating blocks of ice surrounding him, looking for his friend. In one final attempt, he took literally a final breath, dived deep down and literature lost one of the greatest German expressionist writers. From a very young age, Heym questioned social conventions showing a fiery and rebellious attitude. He was often expelled from schools and throughout his life he never shied from asserting his personality and individuality. His sensitive nature soon found expression through the medium of poetry. In 1911, one year before that fatal scating accident, he managed to publish his poetry collection "Der Ewige Tag" (The Eternal Day). After his death, a collection of short stories was also found among his papers. It took more than a year for a publishing house to take the risk to publish this collection under the title "Der Dieb" (The Thief). In these short stories, Georg Heym tackles the themes of obsession, madness, social upheaval, murder and disease, inviting the reader to embark on an expressionistic descent into darkness. The symbolic and lyrical depictions of the characters and themes in these stories were in fact born from an acute conscience of the deplorable conditions that prevailed in big cities like Berlin in the beginning of the 20th century. They are true reflections of an age of brutal change, poverty and decadence where shadows can take the strangest of angles and the horrific and ugly specters of war,famine and disease are just around every corner. When you read these stories you can sense the influence of the French poètes maudits, Baudelaire and Rimbaud, you can imagine the drawings and paintings of George Grosz, Edward Munch and Otto Dix come to life, you become the somnambulant in the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. At the other side of the Atlantic ocean, sixty years earlier, Edgar Allan Poe, would have certainly recognized in the person of Georg Heym, a fellow spirit, another master of the macabre.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Amazing Art of Cartoonist Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is one of the greatest cartoonists of our time. This short video presentation celebrates the work of this extraordinary artist whose wit, sharp eye for detail and in depth understanding of children's and adults' behavior in the world we live in, will never cease to amaze and entertain us.  


The Art of Richard Thompson from GVI on Vimeo.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Damascene Collar of the Dove by Mahmoud Darwish



In Damascus - في دمشق from Waref Abu Quba on Vimeo.

Waref Abu Quba has managed in this short, 4 minute film, to reflect beautifully, in weathered celluloid, some of the verses of this eternal poem by Mahmoud Darwish about Damascus. There is certainly a nostalgia in these poetic glimpses of the city of Damascus. The city that was the jewel of the east. And it is with a fair amount of fear and sadness that at the end of this short film we see two fighter jet planes passing above the blue sky of the city. They take with them, in a way, the cobblestones, the narrow side streets, the voices of the oud and the busy market, the doves that fly behind the silk fence. But they can never take away the essence of this city because it has been forever captured in the verses of this poem and the hearts and minds of its people.       

The Damascene Collar of the Dove
By Mahmoud Darwish
(Translated in English by Fady Joudah)

A.
In Damascus,
the doves fly
behind the silk fence
two . . .
by two . . .

B.
In Damascus:
I see all of my language
written with a woman’s needle 
on a grain of wheat,
refined by the partridge of the Mesopotamian rivers

C.
In Damascus:
the names of the Arabian horses have been embroidered,
since Jahili times
and through judgment day,
or after,
. . . with gold threads

D.
In Damascus:
the sky walks
barefoot on the old roads,
barefoot
So what’s the poet’s use 
of revelation
and meter
and rhyme?

E.
In Damascus:
the stranger sleeps
on his shadow standing
like a minaret in eternity’s bed
not longing for a land
or anyone . . .

F.
In Damascus:
the present tense continues
its Umayyad chores:
we walk to our tomorrow certain
of the sun in our yesterday.
Eternity and we
inhabit this place!

G.
In Damascus:
the dialogue goes on
between the violin and the oud
about the question of existence
and about the endings:
whenever a woman kills a passing lover
she attains the Lotus Tree of Heaven!

H.
In Damascus:
Youssef tears up, 
with the flute,
his ribs
Not for a reason,
other than that 
his heart wasn’t with him

I.
In Damascus:
speech returns to its origin,
water:
poetry isn’t poetry
and prose isn’t prose
And you say: I won’t leave you
so take me to you
and take me with you!

J.
In Damascus:
a gazelle sleeps
besides a woman
in a bed of dew
then the woman takes off her dress
and covers Barada with it!

K.
In Damascus:
a bird picks
at what is left of wheat
in my palm
and leaves for me a single grain
to show me my tomorrow
tomorrow!

L.
In Damascus:
The jasmine dallies with me:
Don’t go far
and follow my tracks
Then the garden becomes jealous:
Don’t come near
the blood of night in my moon

M.
In Damascus:
I keep my lighthearted dream company
and laughing on the almond blossom:
Be realistic
that I may blossom again
around her name’s water
And be realistic
that I may pass in her dream!

N.
In Damascus:
I introduce myself
to itself:
Right here, beneath two almond eyes
we fly together as twins
and postpone our mutual past

O.
In Damascus:
speech softens
and I hear the sound of blood
in the marble veins:
Snatch me away from my son
(she, the prisoner, says to me) 
or petrify with me!

P.
In Damascus:
I count my ribs
and return my heart to its trot
Perhaps the one who granted me entry
to her shadow
has killed me,
and I didn’t notice . . .

Q.
In Damascus:
the stranger gives her howdah back
to the caravan:
I won’t return to my tent
I won’t hang my guitar,
after this evening,
on the family’s fig tree . . .

R.
In Damascus:
poems become diaphanous
They’re neither sensual
nor intellectual
they are what echo says
to echo . . .

S.
In Damascus:
the cloud dries up by afternoon,
then digs a well
for the summer of lovers in the Qysoon valley,
and the flute completes its habit
of longing to what is present in it, 
then cries in vain

R.
In Damascus:
I write in a woman’s journal:
All what’s in you
of narcissus
desires you
and no fence, around you, protects you
from your night’s excess allure

S.
In Damascus:
I see how the Damascus night diminishes
slowly, slowly
And how our goddesses increase
by one!

T.
In Damascus:
the traveler sings to himself:
I return from Syria
neither alive
nor dead
but as clouds
that ease the butterfly’s burden
from my fugitive soul


NOTES

“The Collar of the Dove” is a famous manuscript on beauty and the art of love, written in the 11th century by Ibn Hazm, a renowned Andalusian Muslim scholar.

Barada is a small river that runs through Damascus, and Qysoon valley is one of the city’s suburbs.

Oud is a stringed instrument resembling the lute.

The Lotus Tree of Heaven, Sidrat al-Montaha (the highest degree of attainment) is a fantastic tree that arises form the Seventh Heaven and reaches God’s throne.

Youssef: son of Jacob.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Harmonica of Junior Wells


On the album cover of Junior Wells' "Hoodoo Man Blues", the great bluesman recalls how he got his first harmonica, back in 1948. The instrument that would make him famous as one of the best blues instrumentalists of all time.

This is what he said:

 "I went to this pawnshop downtown and the man had a harmonica priced at $2.00. I got a job on a soda truck... played hookey (*) from school ... worked all week and on Saturday the man gave me a dollar and a half. A dollar and a half! For a whole week of work. I went to the pawnshop and the man said the price was two dollars. I told him I had to have that harp. He walked away from the counter -- left the harp there. So I laid my dollar-and-a-half on the counter and picked up the harp. When my trial came up, the judge asked my why I did it. I told him I had to have that harp. The judge asked me to play it and when I did he gave the man the 50 cents and hollered "Case dismissed!" 

There was only one condition for Junior Wells' court case dismissal. He would have to send a copy of his first album to the Judge. 

(*) "Playing hookey": Skipping school or work.

Listen to:
Junior Wells - Help the Poor (Live in Hambourg 1975)