Greeks, writes Karen Van Dyck, have been living through hunger, unemployment, electricity and water shortages and shuttered businesses. But one part of their society appears to be flourishing: poetry.
Poets writing graffiti on walls, poets reading in public squares, theatres and empty lots, poets performing in slams, chanting slogans, and singing songs at rallies, poets blogging and posting on the internet, poets teaming up with artists and musicians, teaching workshops to school children and migrants. In all of the misery and mess, new poetry is everywhere, too large and various a body of writing to fit neatly on either side of any ideological rift. Even with bookshops closing and publishers unsure of paper supplies, poets are getting their poems out there. Established literary magazines are flourishing; small presses and new periodicals abound. And if poetry production is defying economic recession, it is also overleaping the divisions of nation, class and gender. Not since the Greek military junta, known as the Colonels’ Dictatorship, in the early 1970s, when poets such as Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Jenny Mastoraki and Pavlina Pampoudi first appeared, has there been such an abundance of poetry being written. Indeed, the historical affinity does not stop there: it is those same poets who are doing the lion’s share of mentoring in the new generation.