CULTURE

Greece, in the eyes of writers from abroad

“The View from There,» in the spring 2003 issue of Mondo Greco is an intriguing collection of pieces about Greece by non-Greek poets and writers. All the contributors have lived in Greece for extended periods. Many of them have returned repeatedly or made Greece their home, and their responses to the country reveal as much about themselves as they do about the place. A few weave their experience of Greece into fiction or poetry. Some hymn the beauties of nature, while others reveal how they came to know Greece through its literature or through friends who initiated them into the real Greece that is sometimes invisible to the casual visitor. In «A Ticket to the Middle of the Sea,» Antoni Tabucchi fictionalizes a visit to the tiny island of Gavdos in a tale that captures the stark essence of a remote Greek island with its poor but proud inhabitants and their unforgettable hospitality. Lawrence Ferlinghetti apostrophizes the Delphi oracle in his poem «To the Oracle at Delphi:» «And give us new dreams to dream / Give us new myths to live by!» Edmund Keeley recounts childhood moments in Thessaloniki where his father was American consul. A holiday in a house trailer, with six armed soldiers keeping guard at a distance, recreates a rural Greece where cars still gave way to livestock and where the narrator gets his first inkling that he enjoys privileges unknown to his friends. Peter Green plunges the reader into juicy gossip and adultery among Athenians, native and foreign, during the dictatorship. Fred A. Reed traces the influence of Nikos Kazantzakis on his life and thought back to the days he found a copy of the «The Greek Passion,» a book that «waylaid and snared» him. Wendy Holborow reacts to the charms of Corfu, where she has made her home: «Nascent spring, hysterical with color, matches the hysteria of my mood.» In «Revisiting Hydra,» David Solway’s reacquaintance with old friends on a beloved island occasions wry reflections on life and people. He writes of the aging Lothario Captain Kremos, who «once made a pass at my wife and turned on me with a kind of moral outrage when I intervened. I have never seen anyone so indignant and self-justified. ‘You should not be here,’ he expostulated, ‘you should be having a coffee somewhere.’» And there’s much more – poems by Edward Field, Irving Layton, David Hey and Katerina Valaoritis and memories of their time in Greece by Hellenist Peter Mackridge, poet David Mason, writer Gerry Brisch, academic and translator Jacques Bouchard and poet Don Schofield.