El Greco: Domenikos Theotokopoulos

poetry by Manolis


It's hard to write poetry of affirmation in a post-modernist culture where irony is a compulsive tic. But this new collection by Manolis, a series of meditations on the life and work of the great Cretan artist Domenikos Theotokopoulos – El Greco – triumphs in its lyric intensity and open-hearted transcendentalism. This is a celebration of Hellenic culture and an affirmation of human aspiration amid the chaos of history and the muddle of consensus reality. The poet discovers epiphanies of a heightened vision in the iconography of the paintings. The offset four-line stanza form gives space for reflection and shape to his unfolding narrative.

As the poet enters the space where El Greco worked and sits before the canvasses he's overcome by what the philosopher Colin Wilson calls "Faculty X" – an existential grasp of the actuality of the past as a living present, an intuitive gnosis. "The movement of the brush / waves through the air of / sulphur and darkness..." Vivid images from nature are linked with the exalted vision of the painter, creating a Blakean sense of the world as suffused with a divine energy. As we contemplate the paintings, reproduced in the book, our own vision is re-energized and refreshed.


Nauseated with the littleness
of city non-living,
the savage humdrum
mind grasping splinters

	on the surface of nowhere
	never sated with the neck-down delights
	and all carnal pleasures,
	I embark on a quest for that 

special conifer, the sequoia,
that special flower in the midst
of the impassable thicket
the man who sees man as man. 

	Many a time with tenderness
	I shared a soft pillow with
	a hardened, suspicious Death.
	Many a time I took Him by the hand...

...He shares with me a non-fat latte
at the neighborhood Starbucks.
Many a time I challenged Him, and,
always with a short giggle 

	He walked away gracefully saying...
	"Not yet...
	Not yet...I
	have things for you to do..."

My spirit I summon from the
realms of the void,
to descend in the roots and
trace a course. 

	I dive deep past all
	sunlit gates of consciousness
	looking for a sign,
	straight like a blue spruce 

with duty marked on its fresh bark.
I search for a beacon,
as the lyre slices the air
in pieces of silver.
El Greco: Domenikos Theotokopoulos

Front Cover | Back Cover

Signed by the Author

Paperback 5.5 x 8.5 in
96 pages
ISBN: 9780978186548

"I believe that people like Conrad, Nabokov, Jonas, Manolis, and Bronowski have an advantage in crossing over from another language; they do things with English words which native speakers would never think of. El Greco illustrates my point superbly."
– John Skapski

About the Author

Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Masters for the Arts in Literature. He is recognized for his ability to convey images and thoughts in a rich and evocative way that tugs at something deep within the reader. Born in the village of Kolibari on the island of Crete in 1947, he moved with his family at a young age to Thessaloniki and then to Athens, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from the Panteion University of Athens. After graduation, he served in the armed forces for two years and emigrated to Vancouver in 1973, where he worked as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker, and studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. His translation book George Seferis-Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece.

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