“In the middle of the asphalt”: the poetic trail of Maria Kyrtzaki

Three years after the unexpected passing of the poet Maria Kyrtzaki, Chorus will honour her memory on Sunday, April 14 at 7pm at Polis Art Cafe (5 Pesmazoglou street, Athens). The event is titled “In the middle of the asphalt” and is co-hosted by our two media sponsors: ERT and Trito Programma 90,9.

Maria Kyrtzaki was an influential female voice of the so-called “generation of the 1970s” in Greek poetry. She published nine books of poetry and a collective volume of poems (in the middle of the asphalt, Kastaniotis, 2005). Her verse is lyric and dramatic, existential but also traumatically connected to history; it requires the readers’ participation and seeks to initiate a conversation with them. Her aim is to declare a truth that surpasses her individual case. She does not discuss objects, she does not exalt nature. On the contrary, she persistently and laboriously focuses on the struggles of humanity. Over the years, her poetry gained in quality and dramatic depth, eventually sounding like the prophecy of a modern priestess. In the poems she wrote during the last decade of her life, after her collective works were published (2005-2015), the tension of the traumatic coexistence of the political and the existential serves as an example to highlight the painful conditions of the vast majority of people in the West (especially the Greeks) in the early 21st century. In 2003 she received the Sotiris Matragkas Award by the Academy of Athens for her poetry collection puny and disappearing (“ligosto ke na hanete”). Her poetry has been translated to English, German, French and Swedish.

The event is headlined by Ms. Athina Voyiatzoglou (Assistant Professor of Modern Greek

Literature at the Department of Philology, University of Ioannina) and will present the multifaceted character of Ms. Kyrtzaki: poet, radio producer for ERT and Trito Programma, editor, teacher at the EMPROS drama school, translator, essayist, human. The evening will be interspersed with recitations of her poems by the actress Maria Kastani and the actor Vaggelis Chrysaphis.

Individuals with an intimate knowledge of the poet and her work will share with us their thoughts on her personality and achievements: Kostas Kanavouris (poet and journalist), Kostas Voulgaris (author and editor of the “Anagnossis” insert in the newspaper Avgi), Dimitris Athinakis (poet), Marie-Cécile Fauvin (translator), Gogo Vyenopoulou (actress, student of Ms. Kyrtzaki at the EMPROS drama school), Vouvoula Skoura (instigator of the Typho play, based on a monologue by Ms. Kyrtzaki, Aplo Theatro, 1996).

Poetry:

Silent cries (1966), The words (1973), The circle (1976), The woman with the flock (1982), Summary for the night (1986), Day night (1989), Cloven street (1992), Black Sea (2000), puny and disappearing (2002), In the middle of the asphalt (2005 / collective edition Poems 1973-2002)

They said about the poetry of Maria Kyrtzaki:

Alexis Ziras, literature critic: “The mature period of her poetry basically begins in the middle of the 1970s, when she started using themes from classical tragedy and epic myths (i.e. Homer’s Odyssey) on a grand scale. But her modern prehistory, the tradition she used to draw and transform her hierophantic, dense, and occasionally sibyllic lyrical vocabulary, was Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvos, Odysseas Elytis, and their unexpected heir Giorgos Cheimonas. The world of her poetry is archetypal as far as her language, sex and subjective sense of time are concerned. A world beyond history that also sails through it, since the universe that materialized at the turn of her insightful poetry (from The Woman with the flock and onwards) is a vision that has not stopped sacrificing its personalization, its identifiable personal character in its plural dimensions.”

Kiki Dimoula, poet: “Her voice rises like a broadsword. It speaks or it executes. She transfixes with an unmistakable tension and punishes the self-evident, the commonplace; it is wild, tender, caresses the weaknesses but does so with the very same scratches caused by the sharp touch of things. I often hear the howling of her verse: “I’m hungry like a wolf”, but I’m not worried. I know it’s eclectic, it doesn’t eat concessions.”