In HERS, Maria Laina, one of Greece’s most important living poets, taking inspiration from Sappho’s women-centered past and Cavafy’s homoerotic future, presents an ascetic yet autoerotic treatise on love at odds with societal norms.
“In these still lifes of the interior, Maria is between worlds. Somewhere between the self and the mirror, the real and the invented, the dead and the living, etched in the color of charcoal. Who is sketching this life and who is watching it being sketched, and who is watching it being lived? These poems report back on what goes on in the spaces between. Sometimes the drawing goes outside the lines. Sometimes the beauty and simplicity of the movements is overwhelming in the most voluptuous way. A swarm of voices passes over you. You know everything and nothing. You 'gently chase the memory from [your] mouth.' Read these poems." —Eleni Sikelianos
Poetry. Translation. Women's Studies.
“One of the important voices of the 'Generation of the 70s,' a generation of Greek poets born into a war-ravaged Greece, and who came of literary age under the Junta (and a generation remarkable for prominent women poets) Maria Laina and her poetry remain under-appreciated and underrepresented in English. HERS is a book at once abstract and grounded, elusively cerebral and erotically charged, like flashes of images in splinters of a broken mirror, a minimalism that reflects and refracts. The surface simplicity of these poems arguably make them all the more difficult to render into English, but Karen Van Dyck has deftly brought them into a transparent idiom that lets their mystery shine through." —A. E. Stallings
"Karen van Dyck has rendered Maria Laina’s Greek into still, meditative moments reflecting the self-confidence of a woman on the early end of middle age."
—Tom Bowden, The Book Beat
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Karen Van Dyck's books include Kassandra and the Censors, The Rehearsal of Misunderstanding, The Scattered Papers of Penelope, Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry, and the co-edited Norton anthology, The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present. Her essays, translations and poetry have appeared in The Paris Review, The Guardian, LARB, Poiitiki and Tender. She is founding director of Hellenic Studies at Columbia University where she teaches courses on translation, gender and Modern Greek literature.
Born in 1947 in Patras, Maria Laina is widely regarded as one of Greece's most important living poets. Her work includes nine poetry collections, eleven plays, five books of prose, four critical studies, and an anthology of twentieth- century poetry in Greek translations. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Greek National Prize for Poetry (1994), the Maria Callas Award (1998), the Cavafy Award (2006), and the Athens Academy Prize (2015) for her book of collected poems, Whatever Happened: People and Ghosts received the Reader's Prize in 2021.