|By Carmine Starnino
Last October, Books in Canada featured a remarkable entry in their "Great Authors of Our Time" series: a reclusive Greek fisherman named Andreas Karavis, who, on the strength of two slim poetry collections, White Poems and The Dream Masters, had achieved spectacular national fame and was being unanimously touted by the usually fractious Hellenic literati as the newest heir to the lineage of Angelos Sikelianos, C.P. Cavafy, George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis. David Solway, who began translating Karavis's poetry in 1993, furnished an essay on the poet, which was published alongside a conversation between Karavis and Anna Zoumi (one of only two existing interviews the gruff, caique-quarantined bard had consented to). Also, we were given a sample of Karavis's "cycladic" verse rendered by Solway into a disarming, flavoursome, lapidary English. Here's one that was reproduced in the feature, plucked from a long poem called "Saracen Island":
Drawing Of Karavis By Carolyn O'Neill
When the wind started
a week ago, two weeks, a month perhaps,
we did all the usual things --
nailed the window shutters tight,
planed the grooves and flanges
of the door planks,
placed chimney pots upon the roof tiles.
Now the very shape
of the mountain has changed.
The earth is bare,
its skin of red dust
flayed from the bones of ore.
The village is a heap of stones.
We take whatever shelter we can
in the caves by the sea
or in dried-up watercourse.
I record everything
with the doggedness of the tamarisk tree,
with the memory of the heavy stone,
to keep what is left
from blowing away
in this endless, anonymous wind