The first English-language collection of Greek Modernist George Sarantaris, described by Nobel Laureate Odysseus Elytis as “the greatest poet of the Generation of ’30,” whose laconic lyric poetry oscillates between the philosophical and the erotic.
Sarantaris’ lucid poems, with their epigrammatic simplicity, recall the ancient Greek poetic tradition while drawing on the French and Italian influences of his time. Louka’s translation conveys the freshness of Sarantaris’s aphoristic style, metaphorical wit, and philosophical musings. In their condensed precision and attention to landscape, Sarantaris’s poems may remind English-language readers of his American contemporary Lorine Niedecker and others in the Objectivist circle.
"In his brief lifetime, Sarantaris produced poems of exceptional force and beauty. These are verses that ache, that unsettle, that thrum with vitality and precision. Pria Louka, in her graceful, finely-wrought translations, has reproduced the essential purity and interiority of Sarantaris' poems, the same ambiguity and lightness of touch. I will treasure this bilingual volume, and I will urge it upon lovers of poetry everywhere." — Jhumpa Lahiri
"Although the poems in ABYSS AND SONG seem evanescent, almost wispy in their brevity, these fleeting lyrics convey a powerful and universal longing. In this way, Sarantaris's poems function as fragments of a larger, still unfinished poetry project that it is up to each reader to savor and to complete." — Rachel Hadas
"A Sarantaris poem—a product of the subtlest kind of subtraction—is often both epigram and epitaph, aspiring to song while inscribing its own reticence... Pria Louka’s fine translations find ways to convey the oracular qualities of this mysterious poet while retaining the urgency of his acts of abbreviation." — Christopher Bakken
"Through this elegant and comprehensive selection of the poems of George Sarantaris, Pria Louka helps introduce a major twentieth-century Greek poet to readers of English. So poised and exquisite are these translations that they could easily appear on their own, without the Greek original." — Michael Moore
George Sarantaris (1908-1941) was a Greek poet born in Constantinople and raised in Italy. After receiving a law degree from the University of Macerata, at the age of twenty-two, he moved to Greece, where he spent the rest of his life. During his time in Greece, he composed more than a thousand poems, developing a distinct poetic world that evokes the sparse, light-filled Greek landscape. He died tragically in the 1940 Greco-Italian War fighting against the country of his upbringing, Italy.
Author City: Athens GRC
Pria Louka is a writer and translator of Greek poetry. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship that has allowed her to pursue her passion for modern Greek literature. She is the author of The Courage to Walk and Write (Alphabetics, 2015) and has published an extensive photographic essay on Greece. Louka, a graduate of Princeton University, currently lives in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Author City: Thessaloniki GRC