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Postcards From Karavis.
Karavis as a Boy

Did the above-mentioned magazines know the truth about Karavis? If not, how culpable are they for their credulousness? Was their lapse in judgment a consequence of our common practice of corroborating a poem's "truth" according to the writer's socio-cultural position? In particular, would the fake poems have made Solway eligible as a "great author" had he not slipped into a Greek guise? And if these periodicals did know that Karavis's bio was bogus, what ethical significance does that awareness have for editorial integrity? After all, shouldn't readers trust that what is being offered them is genuine? Moreover, how implicated is Fred Reed, himself an acclaimed travel writer and a life-long Grecophile? And what possible motive would an embassy official like Yiorgos Chouliaras have -- being Greek, as well as a poet, he surely saw the fib -- to front Solway's persona? (Interestingly, I've heard rumours crediting either Reed or Chouliaras as the real authors of Karavis.)

But what does it mean to say that the poems are fake? What does a fake poem look like? Or, rather, what's needed for poems to be real? They may not empirically belong to the person Solway insists they belong to, but it's hard to assess how Karavis's poems cannot "exist," so to speak, particularly after we've all read them. Imposturings of this sort have lived in the interstices of our literature for centuries (Ossian, Thomas Rowly, Ern Malley, Araki Yasusada; all celebrated and all fictions). At their best, the fabrications are gambits of such vexing and sophisticated mishieviousness that readers are nudged toward an altered conception of authenticity. Can the authority of Solway's "translations" only be activated by the legitimacy of their alleged origins? Can aesthetic value be rescued from a counterfeit relationship between poet and poetry? Is poetic beauty compatible with fraudulence? Or, to put it plainly, if the poems are satisfying (as indeed these are) does it matter who is speaking?

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