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Responses to American Poetry

The aim of this online space is to host the research work of university students or young scholars as this emerges from larger projects focusing on the American poetry scene. The objective of this initiative is to bring this kind of research activity to the attention of the general public in an attempt to further promote the exchange of ideas with regard to the process of reading, understanding and appreciating poetry writing.


Tatiani Rapatzikou 
(Associate Professor, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Advisor and initiative co-ordinator


Anthony Kitsios


Reflections and Deflections in My Heel: A Reflective Essay

You: an Achille’s apple
Blushing sweet on a high branch
At the tip of the tallest tree.
You escaped those who would pluck
your fruit.

Sappho is inevitably diachronic, like any other enigma of humanity and that is necessary to consider as it signifies that her importance has not been exhausted the least in the past few centuries. On the contrary, from an unidentified object of admiration she has slowly been transformed to an identified subject that, other than her own voice, encompasses the voices of many others. In that sense, she is essentially polyphonic. Nevertheless, what we truly know about her personality, her persona/ae or her work are nothing more than an elusive assumption in an ocean of regular and irregular beliefs ready to be wrecked by those who are about to follow. That leads, of course, to an atopia every time we try to read her as a locus. If only we had attempted to invert the question to “What is not Sappho today” we might as well have come up to conclude that she is intentionally everything because we unintentionally think her as absent.

Having all these in mind, I have decided to draw on confessional poetry which, to me, serves best the need to express one’s experiences, to dramatize one’s personal moments and to escape the suffocating reality by experimenting with language and the self. Therefore, the expression of homoerotic affection through this form has an additional symbolic turn, the need to speak for oneself through an unconventional medium that contrary to the society and its norms cannot condemn its amants1 to follow certain rules, certain structures or patterns but rather embrace their own media and ways of expression. Establishing the core part of my work, I have then decided to breathe new life in it through the use of video. I have used video footage which has been montaged in order to create a 12:19 minute short film. The sound has, also, been edited to accommodate the partial, but, overall, purposeful fragmentation of the poem and a number of images have been created by myself in order to replace the copyrighted ones.

Regarding the challenges, I believe that one of the most challenging parts was the composition of the poem. It happens to write poetry and drama, but in Greek. Hence, my friction with the English verse was something I had to work a lot with. Other than that, a major struggle was the research and editing process, as well. More specifically, I had to find actual footage which corresponded semantically and/or pragmatically to my poem’s lines, edit the videos, synchronize the timing for the sound effects, the subtitles and the music but also record my voice and integrate it along with the poem’s lines into the text. Copyright was another concern. I strived to find quality work, suitable to my needs and pay careful attention to the licensing and distribution rights of each and every product I have used. Last but not least, I tried to create an emotional plot which could flow naturally (be cohesive), making the reader question about the work’s purpose and not for the work per se something that made me revise, delete and rethink of certain scenes in the video.

Moving on to the work’s perspective, I have chosen to reconstruct the unrequited love of Achilles to Patroclus. Achilles and Patroclus two important warriors and characters of Homer’s Iliad were believed to be lovers. For me, personally, Achille’s heel is Patroclus. Appropriating Sapphic love, I present it now inverted in order to describe the relationship between two gay men in a post-modern environment. Henceforth, I want to pinpoint how diachronous and chameleontic are the homoerotic feelings and affection in terms of setting (place and time) and how synchronous and temporal they are presented in terms of character, voice and narration. Additionally, I wanted to challenge the ideas of «είναι/φαίνεσθαι» and by extension challenge our own personal views of the multiple forms and colors love deserves to have. Femininity and masculinity are neither a bipole nor the status quo. Thus, I wanted to manipulate the structure of the mechanism itself, reframing the idea and definition of identity.

Overall, this project may or shall be interpreted as a post-modern queer poetic manifesto mediated through the audiovisual dialogic form videography gives access to. While the work directly refers to Achilles and Patroclus, it is indirectly multi-layered and multi-faceted bringing together pieces of Sappho’s lyric poetry in a hostile but for the most part promising present. It is indeed in present that we should plant the malice seeds of the past hoping that they will not grow into fleurs du mal.



George, Anita. “Fragment 105 (A).” Poetry, vol. 164, no. 3, 1994, pp.140. 
JSTOR, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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1 i.e., lovers; in terms of followers of the form, the writers themselves.