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.
(Associate Professor, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Advisor and initiative co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org)
Athena Papadopoulou George Margaritis Spiros Xanthis
[focus on traffic and lights/ puddle if there is/ Running in the city]
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
[coffee machine sounding]
[start searching for Whitman online (use sources from project, online sources)/ opens a word document/ connects earphones/ starts flipping the book]
[through headphones while reading]
Hello, Athena. [kind yet stoic]
Oh, why! Out of all that could have come, you came here.
Well, dear, you’ve got a creative project on me. It’s only natural. “what do you have to confide in me?”
[rolls eyes] Tell me whatever you want related to Leaves of Grass and then leave me alone.
“I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.”
We are mortals, and we make mistakes which may lead us to great epiphanies.
“The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,/ And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.” [arrogance and pride/ almost narcissist ]
Nothing is fixed; we travel; we transform; we dream, and we become. What we may perceive as past and present and future in reality may not be what you say, Walt. Time is just a cycle but we have made the decision to make it linear. Alas, one is known, wherever we go we leave behind something, whether it is our hope, our dreams, our aspirations; we mark our reality as much as reality shapes us, our souls, and bodies. We are focalizers of our life not the objects nor the muppets. Look around Walt. We are in a park where peace is easy. You don’t know current life. These are our anxieties. We are nothing but apostrophes in a book; too many, too insignificant, too silenced, too oppressed, no life can be found outside despite all of our liberties. We are chained just like you are interpreted and misinterpreted. They have stolen our voices Whitman! We have become a void!
“I too am untranslatable.” [shout with passion]
“You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.” [quite strict]
How can you not see through your eyes? They have taken mine! How can I listen to all sides, when their screams are silenced. How can I filter when my thoughts are not really mine. Whit, they try to make us all the same, the same worries, the same anxieties, you can see their void!
“Enough! enough! enough!” [fed up with everything]
“I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.”
“You are [also] asking me questions and I hear you” “You must travel it for yourself.” [kind]
Travel what? Travel where? Travel how? Travel when?
“I stay only a minute longer” [sympathetic]
You are supposed to help me, to inspire me, to guide me and to give me a voice. Are you going to desert me like a master does to its property? Are you also an apostrophe? Where do you think you are going?
“To you Death.” [stoic]
Yes! [screams] They are poisoning us, pushing us to the edge, drifting away from life. They dictate us. They entrap us and we as flowers wilt away… [sad face/teary]
“Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,” [harsh yet empathetic]
[studying/ thinking on the project/ starts writing a poem/ zoom on poem]
More than thee
Yet cold as a deadly breeze
Sweeping off my feet
Traveling by night by the city’s broken light…
“Missing me one place, search another,/ I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
Oh, you came?! How sweet of you, Whit? Ojos que no ven, corazón que no
sienten! Si de pronto/ me olvidas/ no me busques/ que ya ta habre olvidado1.
“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,” [like a tyrant]
I am your prodigy, and your legacy is the one that I have to follow. I shall leave behind all the fathers that I have known. You are the storyteller of your own life. Al final solo se tiene la que se ha dado.
“I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured. [as if] I could forget the mockers and insults!” [insulted/ almost shouts]
To you we will only, and forever be children. For all, you are the poet; you are the start and the end; you have become literature itself; you have become the meter and the rhyme; alas you forget the iambic is dead. No 14 lines dictate our lives; Nor Shakespeare, no Petrarch, not even you Walt Whitman can scar our line of thought. No enjambments no run-on line matter no more. We are the sounds, the syllables and the imagery itself.
[typing on the computer/ almost at the end of the page]
The shoes have been walked by many. The end nearer than the start, yet we all have an identical goal. Who can conquer who and who will be left alone on the periphery of line, out of rhyme and out of sight? Many called themselves poets, and the cycle never ends; more will come, perhaps better than thee Whit. More poets, and more voices, more translations and more inadequate misinterpretations. Alas who will survive the war fare of pens and who will be crowned a true poet by the end. La vida es un ruido entre dos grandes silencios.
[a black photo with a splash sound]
An old silent pond…/A frog jumps into the pond, / splash! Silence again.”
Allende, Isabel. Paula. HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.
Basho, Matsuo. “Old Pond”. PoemHunetr.com. www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-old-pond/. Accessed 06 Feb 2022.
Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Harcourt, 1974.
Neruda, Pablo. “Si tú me olvidas”. Poemas del Alma. www.poemas-del-alma.com/ pablo-neruda-si-tu-me-olvidas.htm Accessed 06 Feb 2022.
Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Robert S. Levine, 9th ed., W. W. Norton, 2017, pp 23-46.
1 This translates as: “Eyes that don't see, heart that doesn't feel! If suddenly/ you forget me/ don't look for me/ I will have already forgotten you.”
Contributor Bios: Athene Papadopoulou, George Margaritis, Spiros Xanthis
Contributor Reflective Pieces: Athena Papadopoulou, George Margaritis, Spiros Xanthis