ictus

ictus

Thursday, 14 April 2016

'Infuriated Palimpsests': Guest Poet: Natalie Katsou

 There is a buzz about Greek poetry at the moment: quick on the heels of the impressive Penned in the Margins anthology Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis comes a Penguin compilation Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry (ed. Karen Van Dyck). I haven't read it yet, but the review in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago implied the book captures an exciting resurgence precipitated by economic turmoil which rather than bemoan current social hardships does what “poetry does best: offer new ways to imagine what can be radically different realities”.
   I'm pleased to introduce a further Greek poet today, Natalie Katsou, a multi-talented and polymathic young writer, theatre-director and teacher I worked with until recently. I find her poetry ambitious and disarming, a collage of giddy imaginative jumps full of cathartic drama and dissonance. I reprint here a sequence from her third volume Nymphalidae (Kedros, 2015), followed by her brief bio:
                                          Chrysanthemum  
                                          Cartes Postales

   a mouse jumps on the bench with the frozen shrimps its eyes widen become glass from its ear crops up a tail till it becomes the head of a cat


 the dreamy woman lies down on the bench with the dead shellfish she wags her tail shines her teeth with the tongue her black bitten tongue


 behind fear there is a smile


 when the painter wakes up he’ll seize the knife on the bench and stick it in her breast for spring to flow he will cut her into thin slices place her on lumps of salted rice and share her out among the orphans
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Left like a gabardine on the table of an entrance dripping a lake after the rain on the wooden floor as on the grass with the thistles and a bunch of poppies that will shed their petals before nightfall soaking the red linen on the sleeve and the last rays hitting the lining while a bag of fresh trout slips gently off the table onto the lake on the floor.  The impending moment of return to this spot stretches and hovers and gathers wind-like in corn till the lake dries up the trout falls among the thistles sweeping the linen to cover it with a red cast-off garment.


Left on an entrance hook she slides towards the lake till a red cast-off garment covers her. 


Left on the grass with the thistles she stretches and hovers and gathers.  Like the wind.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arranging flowers and the weight of transparency while horseshoes in copper pots overflowing with boiled snow like a midnight kiss with a guitar’s empty belly for a pillow with a long exotic arm straining the cold in the hive exhaling between the chords as momentarily a swan.

Grief tears the lonely apart


thoughts rust in the isolation and smell a cage to protect them


wind Eumenides worms in windstorms
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the light’s parting the brain’s woolly parcel


bloats an octopus in the nest and climbs up while the eyes wriggle half-blind against the bats that swoop down with visions behind the fleshy


nutshells  
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The earth is a square mat to sharpen the fingertips exorcizing the flapping of wings


The dream-haunted woman who dares not sleep appears ornamental


A head sleeps beside her swearing to the form of sleeplessness as a spot of an irrational ocean and giving it a comrade’s name


Dead beauty
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
observing a water lily caught in a white transparent ice cube


mouths crystallize or a long straight line with two human ends


disappearance within another – a future


sustained of exhaling


is the emptiness between the days that passed with nothing
happening


silences in a cloud ostensibly heartless
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lying prostrate on the grass with yellow hair


bearing a quiver with a pomegranate in the pocket


barefooted and a deep cut full of dry blood


hiding blades and secrets under her breast.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
She had the look of a dead fairy.


Or a blue entrapped dragonfly.  
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dripping a thick green the branches catch fire


with the rain


the earth jolts


short-lived psychopomps like seasons


dissolve before eyes spotted from the past


and closed
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the butterflies flee in packs
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
homeless guards of those who don’t return


words flying with paper wings exchange


captive skies
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Dragging a parachute ripped round a branch


ready for a hideout.  A map made of pencil sharpening and


cotton bread.  The ticket is cut again and again


into smaller pieces.


Repatriation is a vanilla and salt ice cream in an ancient newspaper


next to the map with the ticket.  The teeth break with every attempt.  Buried there it never melts.  Without a kiss.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wearing the parachute for a nightie.


Impersonating sleep. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 A far-off scream in the sand dripping on and on and echoing the stars’ asphyxia for there they don’t know of the twin band binding us to chaos its yellow imprint runs among the bare trunks


as though pleading to be uprooted
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
infuriated palimpsests of inner flesh fissures of touches shrinking in a broken vase of sand I stand and sweep it up clean it tidy it and with my fingers I lay each grain on the tip of the tongue


the blood afire and instantly white mercury shoots me up to the clouds


I swear to be contained in this doom before the cut off word dawns on the forehead


electrifying the moment and casting it as thunder in the mind
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Hand and foot battle in a woven basket of moulded cherries.  Eyes gagged, sleeves pinned in a line, thoughts in chains.  A groan and a kick towards the exit.  Suction and dissolution.   Birth        


 Substantiality


Ultimate performative act to bring about the raising of joy and catharsis


 Place Japan


Place imagined and necessary


Place everywhere


 Time excluded


Time the self
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 The night collapses in this white corner with the split screen swallowing the teeth fingers and eyeballs of passersby.  A bottle of alcohol is rolling along the road’s curve.  The bottle falls in the river with a creased piece of paper against the current.


Save me.  Find me and pull me out by the hair.


Coexistence is a multi-unit enigma.


The total is revealed by fitting each loneliness


to the other’s outline.


It’s customary.  A lonely look at things – with the guilt of an animal that’s eating sweetmeat intended for bait.  At a certain moment it may be forgotten.  Once the sugar crystallizes on the palate.  The slaughter takes place between blindness and utter clarity.  Common denominator is the white, the world’s white corner that resembles death.

                                                                          Translated by Yiannis Goumas

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Natalie Katsou was born in Athens. She studied Law and Theatre Studies at the University of Athens and she had her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing at East 15 Acting School, University of Essex under the Minotis Scholarship by the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece. She lives and works as a theatre director and a drama lecturer in London; she is the Artistic Director of Operaview.Magodos” (Kastaniotis Publ. 2008- nominated for the DIAVAZO Literature Prize) , “Cochlea” (Kedros Publ. 2012- nominated for the ANAGNOSTIS Literature Prize) and “Nymfalidae” (Kedros Publ. 2015).Her poems have been translated in English by Yiannis Goumas,  in French by Michel Volkovitch and in Spanish by Mario Dominguez Parra. Her poetry features in magazines such as POIHSI,  and poihtiki and in various e-zines such as poeticanet.gr, e-poema, Mediterranean.nu, Quarterly Review and others.
  You can hear Natalie reading with two other Greek poets, Nikos Erinakis and Haris Psarras, in both Greek and English this Sunday 17th April at The Proud Archivist in Haggerston. More details here.

No comments:

Post a Comment