Poetry and music are brought together in one performance

Setting poetry to music or just recitation? It seems that the show «Land of Absences» is a combination of both. It harnesses three voices: Kiki Dimoula’s poetry, composer Kyriakos Sfetsas’s music and Alexandra Sakellaropoulou’s acting. Sfetsas set some of Dimoula’s poems to music and with the contribution of Sakellaropoulou’s voice and a children’s choir, a different show of music and poetry will be presented on Monday at the Ancient Odeon of Patras. The show aims at the coexistence of music and poetry, or rather at finding common points of reference between the two. In three separate interviews, the poet gave her view of how she thought the music fitted her poetry, the composer spoke about combining poetry and music and the actress explained how she interpreted this show. Kiki Dimoula Dimoula, currently on a beach in the northern Peloponnese, said her poetry has no musical rhythm and that Sfetsas’s decision not to actually set her poems to music was wise. She confessed that when she was growing up in Kypseli her dream was to become a singer and that she gave her first performances on the steps outside her home. «There is a rhythm inside me that comes from elsewhere. I don’t know how much I use it when I write poetry. What I do know is that I can tell when the words are ‘out of tune,’ so I think I can recognize fault in a melody.» How much, in her opinion, does music help poetry, given how much more popular Seferis’s, Elytis’s and Ritsos’s verses became when they were set to music by Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis. «I think people loved the music instead of the poems. The singer’s voice and the music are both so powerful that naturally the words fade under their supremacy.» Commenting on Sfetsas’s selection of her older poems for the show, she said that these poems seemed to suit his own personal rhythms. Dimoula said that the rhythm of her poetry has changed a lot over the past few years. «I am afraid it does not lean toward any musical direction. I am the kind of poet who writes based on experience, not visions, and I fear my current style of expression might become permanent. Of course, it is impossible for me to go back to my youth, unless there is some way to depict it without experiencing it. Inspiration is a matter of life impetus – once that ceases to exist, you are left with speed. Then that, too, ceases to exist, and what you are left with is something chopped up that you must overcome. And it’s not always easy.» She added that Sfetsas’s choice was a new experience for her. «Besides, I enjoy receiving what I haven’t sought. I see Sfetsas’s decision to add to the life of my poems something from his own life as a gift. And I think these poems needed something that would bring them to life.» Kyriakos Sfetsas Sfetsas, a resident of Lefkada for the past few years, insists that artists should communicate. «Everything I do derives from the need to convey a message to this country, even to a few people… a desire for real communication between artists. Artists should be united in seeking creative ways that might change things even a little bit. They always convey new ideas and a sense of good taste indicative of their attitude toward life and their work. When they are not too busy fighting each other, artists can create teams with such dynamism that they could bring about change. From this point of view, I think Dimoula’s work is very important and that she is the greatest female Greek poet of contemporary Greece. «Reading her work gave me ideas on how music and poetry could coexist without one taking over the other, and I hope I succeeded in doing that. My aim was not to set the poems to music; what I did set to music was just some bits of the poems which I considered to be the points of culmination. I wanted these verses to be sung by a girls’ choir, because I wanted to render the poet’s youthful conscience. So, the choir represents the poet’s youthful dream. Apart from that, I wanted to create something new by Greek standards: Using the poetry as a starting point, I discovered its secret musical flow and based my own compositions on it. I also had the luck to come across Alexandra Sakellaropoulou and she read the poetry exactly as I had dreamed it, plainly and not over-emotionally. In this case, Alexandra is a soloist.» Alexandra Sakellaropoulou Actress Alexandra Sakellaropoulou had to combine two different forms of expression and convey them to the audience. «I feel richer and less lonely after my meeting with Kyriakos Sfetsas and Kiki Dimoula in the ‘Land of Absences,’» she said. «Their voices are different and their art is modern, subversive; this was a gift from two artists preceding my own generation. Their rare artistic style and their graceful expression make them dangerously subversive in a society that is used to being loud. «These people’s quietness and their efforts to create despite the discouraging circumstances and the present lack of quality are a political act against today’s superficiality. Dimoula’s poetry functions on many levels: It is direct and not isolationist. I felt the poetry calling me to look into all the things on which Dimoula kept silent. For the past three months, I have been looking for the indirect subversion behind her direct expression. «Dimoula’s voice is very strong, although it might appear fragile. My own experience with poetry before the show was long and painful, but also very pleasant at times. I hope I have not to betray it. «Kyriakos Sfetsas’s music was my solid support during this journey of discovery. I allowed myself to be carried away by his music, sensing that he communicated with the poet with love, respect and a feeling of complicity. I felt that he was telling his own personal story. «This show consists of two personal narrations that do justice to the quality of both artists. It is a wonderful combination. Somehow I had to fit in as well, to try to render in the best way possible what both of them wanted to say and, at the same time, to express something of my own. Very humbly and trusting that I am in good hands, I let myself be carried away on this journey.»