Αυτός που διαβάζει με όρους ανοχής μπορεί να με διαβάσει, αυτός που διαβάζει με όρους συμμετοχής όχι.
Γ.Λ.

The one that reads with terms of tolerance can read me, the one that reads with terms of attendance can not.

Y.L.

"Poetry is the only adventure that's worthwhile outside itself"
- Yannis Livadas


"Άτη" - Σκόρπια Ποιήματα 2001-2009.

"Άτη" - Σκόρπια Ποιήματα 2001-2009.
Κέδρος (Μάρτιος 2011) Κυκλοφορεί

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Yannis Livadas to Damir Sodan; The second interview for Quorum Magazine (Croatia)


1) Polish poet Adam Zagajewski once said that - poetry is a revenge of the introverts! In a somewhat similar vein American poet laureate Billy Collins remarked that - poet is a secretary of the interior! How do you perceive this potential dichotomy beteween intro-version / extro-version in poetry? Where does a poem arrive from after all; from within or from without? 

I really can’t agree with the opinion of both. The basis, also, of the acceptance of into- and extro- is quite a fad. Poetry is the apotheosis of the spirit, the way of the genius, which is capable to reach the state of the divine. The poems are the faraway wanderers of inspiration (in spiritus), derive from the secret sides and come, always, overflowing with generosity, clearness and candor. The state of poetry has no interior and exterior ranges, all is highest inspection. There is no need for inferior levels and grounds. That’s why it really matters.

2) You are a great jazz afficionado: some of your poems are dedicated to famous and less famous masters of the genre, from Tony Fruscella to Jackie McLean. Not to mention that you have a book of verse in the US which is essentially a tribute to the great John Coltrane. Where do you see the connection between the two art forms - poetry and jazz? Is it improvisation and freedom of expression above all or 'something else' as Cannonball would have it?:)) 

Yes, I could say that. Freedom of expression; if you own an expression of course. As for improvisation there is not much to comment; that is the pureness of poetry. And last but not least: there is no improvement without improvisation. The phrase “something else” is accurate; poetry continually offers what is not expected.

3) You are also to an extent a fan of the beats and their poetry. Do you think they are still important as role models for young / younger poets worldwide as they undeniably were in the 60ties and onwards? Or are they now just one of the many poetical ingrediets of the mainstream?  In other words, has the beat over the years lost its initial appeal and drive? 

It is too much to be considered as a huge fan of the beat generation. The truth is that one must be very well aware of their heritage because some of them were true artists. They were extraordinary writers; so if you have not read them you lack a lot. You can’t really go on without knowing the aspects from the early modernism up to the beats. I think that is absolutely necessary. Today the beats are solemnly included in the noblest tradition of poetry. Their appeal, of course, has gradually lost its dynamics but it is something that always happens to the movements; it will take some time until they will be requisite again. That’s the cycle.

4) You have been translated a lot. What is your take on translation? Is it just a futile attempt to restore original within the context of a different culture / language, or a pure re-creation? Somebody once said that poetry is precisely that what gets lost in the translation? In other words, are you an 'optimist' when it comes to translation? 

One hundred percent recreation, and one hundred and one percent communication.  I am always an optimist. Poetry is optimistic; even in forms and ideas that may make you feel quite obscure and uncertain in the first place.

5) From Mallarme to Rilke and all the way to Susan Sontag many were sceptical towards (over)interpretation when it comes to poetry/works of art. On the other hand Valery and T.S. Eliot were very much in favour of it. Personally, what do you think - should poetry be first interpreted and then 'felt' or the other way around? In other words - can an over-rationalisation do much damage to poetry or is it something that poets should after all settle for since once a poem is written it is no longer exclusively the property of its creator? 

All interpretations lack of poetry; poetry does not need or is admit of any kind of interpretation/explanation. That is foolish reversed grammatics. Poetry is the epiphany of the state of the highest union of all the possible and impossible justifications of man. Therefore poet’s job is done completely in the most definitive way. All the other aspects depend on several conditions of the spirit of other men. They have to do their job too. And that means to dig poetry as it is and not through the explanatory channel of somebody who likes to make interpretations. The interpreter is quite the opposite of a poet.

6) W.H. Auden remarked that "poetry makes nothing happen"! He was probably alluding to the role of poetry in society as a whole. What do you think - generally - might be poetry's role in society? Is there an exculpatory role that poetry might play as a spiritual discipline when it comes to human condition since it is in a way a 'freedom of speech' in a most radical sense? 

People must learn and follow the lead of the poets. The wisdom of poetry could be something like a panacea for the society. Poetry really makes nothing happen because it is already a great change, a huge transformation. “To happen” is the obligation of the reader. That’s all; and that is the meaning. To ask the poet to do more than the poems he writes is a simply superfluous. The effectiveness of poetry lies in the skull of the reader. The poet and the poem are congenitally effective. As for the “freedom of speech”, it is nothing if there’s not a freedom of the spirit previously.   

7) Finally, a question about 'technique'. How do you work? Do you revise a lot or most of your writings / poems are 'first takes' as jazz musicians would have it? If you do revise, why do you think it's important? 

I have no technique since I stopped writing as a talented one. The whole unison of me, you, the cosmos, the universe, become automatically a poem, but in various velocities, in various shades of understanding at times. You can call them “first takes”, every poem is similar to a new-born baby; nobody knows what will happen later on to it.


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Yannis Livadas: The Margins Of A Central Man

Yannis Livadas: The Margins Of A Central Man
Graffiti Kolkata, India (May 2010)