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.
Paperback 5.5 x 8.5 in
– 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.