Meet the Greek writers revolutionising poetry in the age of austerity

Thanasis Gavos   Wed, 11 May 2016; 23:01

A new kind of poetry is flourishing in Greece’s streets, bars and cafes. It is popping up not just on magazines, small presses and websites, but on graffiti walls, and in music, film, and art. Not since the dictatorship that shook the country in the 1970s has there been such an abundance being written. A new anthology in English translation, Austerity Measures, compiles some of the most revolutionary.

Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is a fan, calling it a “silver lining”, the one good upshot from austerity policies that have shattered the country. “Along with the mass unemployment and the rise of neo-Nazism that it engendered, austerity also occasioned a cultural renaissance,” he writes. “This volume is … living proof that the Greek crisis is of global significance.”

In a country where there is less to go around across the board – including fewer young people – poetry is “the one thing there is more of,” writes editor Karen Van Dyck. Despite the title, and the fact that many of the poems respond to the social and economic crisis, Van Dyck emphasises this is not a homogenous phenomenon. “A lot of these poets don’t even know the others exist. It’s a very disperse scene.” Nor are they really a generation. They are multicultural, multiethnic, multigenerational; some of them aren’t even Greek, just writing in it.

“They don’t even think they need to belong to Greek poetry. They have access to the whole world,” says Van Dyck. From the small pleasures of suburban gardens to the viciousness of streetfights, they use pop culture and post-capitalism, images of domestic machines and the internet and mix them all up with ancient myths. We talked to some of them about what drives them to create, and what hopes and fears they have for their country.

Read the full article here.

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