By Eleni Kefala
Translated by Peter Constantine
Winner of the State Prize for Poetry in Cyprus, these experimental linked poem-threads move across time, linking a young Cypriot to ancestors, contemporaries, and descendants through striking, disparate polyphony.
Publication Date: 11/15/22
In this bilingual collection of linked poems, Kefala creates a tapestry of motifs that transcend time and identity across early 20th Century Cyprus, 16th Century Scotland, a sailor on Christopher Columbus’ ship La Pinta, and more.
As the poem threads draw together, it is as if the protagonist, in his travels through the twentieth century, encounters Odysseus, Cervantes, Columbus, Rembrandt, and others, all moving in multidimensional synchronicity. In this way, the readers take part in the production of meaning by pulling the threads together, stitching together their own reading of the story.
Through the reading of these threads, time remains fluid, creating a masterful declaration about the function of poetry: perhaps history is nothing more than the presence of innumerable human voices, some more and some less powerful, coexisting in an eternal present.
Eleni Kefala grew up in Cyprus and is currently a Professor of Latin American Literature at St. Andrews University in Scotland. She has published two books of poetry, Memory and Variations (2007), which was shortlisted for the Diavazo Literary Prize in Greece (first-time author), and Time Stitches (published in Greek in 2013), which received the State Prize for Poetry in Cyprus. Her work has been translated into English, Italian, French, Turkish, and Bulgarian.
Peter Constantine is a literary translator and editor, and the director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut. His recent translations, published by Random House (Modern Library), include The Essential Writings of Rousseau, The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, and works by Tolstoy, Gogol, and Voltaire. His translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel received the Koret Jewish Literature Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. A Guggenheim Fellow, he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov. His debut novel, The Purchased Bride, will be published by Deep Vellum in 2023.