On Yiorgos Chouliaras, Dimitris Kalokyris and Haris Vlavianos by Maria Koundoura (2011)
If diagnoses of our culture are correct, and nostalgia and imitation reign supreme, is a new poetics possible in our moment of modernity? Are we doomed to imitate the aesthetic languages of ours and others’ pasts? Is there the possibility of new visions for the present? These are questions that have preoccupied writers and critics since the beginning of modernism. Its solution of making it new morphed into the cultural relativism of the poetics of postmodernism and became the cause of
celebration and despair.
Amidst all this critical anxiety, or anxiety at the critical condition of culture, writers have continued to write, evaluating the world both archaically and with newness, offering us visions for the present. This has always been the function of writing: it opens new worlds for us, worlds of the possible, as Aristotle says in his defi nition of mimesis, that we then strive to make real. Rooted in this long tradition, Yiorgos Chouliaras, Dimitris Kalokyris, and Haris Vlavianos are three contemporary Greek poets whose writing offers us a vision for the present that partakes of neither nostalgia nor imitation. In it, instead, we fi nd a map of what I see as the transnational poetics of our moment. I am using poetics in its Platonic sense here, to mean the art of making, forming, deforming, and transforming since, not being Christian, Plato did not believe in the act of creation out of the absolute. Chouliaras,
Kalokyris, and Vlavianos’s poetry engages the full range of our modernity’s aesthetic expression. In its lines one fi nds modernism’s belief in language’s immortality, postmodernism’s belief in its creative power, and our current moment’s ear for its many voices. Their poetics refl ect the multiple expressions of modernity, and not the singular mother tongue of a Europe-centered modernism or the ventriloquism of a triumphant postmodernism that hides the
monolingualism of the global culture market that supports it.
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