Culture & PeopleBooksOn Hope and Death: Gürgenç Korkmazel on the poetry of Giorgos Christodoulides

On Hope and Death: Gürgenç Korkmazel on the poetry of Giorgos Christodoulides

On Hope and Death:

Gürgenç Korkmazel on the poetry of Giorgos Christodoulides

This is a tribute to Giorgos Christodoulides: Selected Poems (Armida, 2021) Giorgos’ first poetry book in English. Personally, I have long waited for this book.

I discovered Giorgos’ poetry when I was preparing the Anthology of Greek Cypriot Poetry. Even by looking at the five poems which I included in the anthology, I could tell that he was the best poet of his generation.

Of course, there are many reasons that may explain where the strength of his poetry comes from, but I would like to focus on two: the first one is hope. I mean anti-hope actually. As you know, hope is a religious invention. Since the early centuries, religions have used it to numb people. Afterwards, political parties started to use it, as they had learned it from religions. Even today they still preach about hope to win elections, however, hope died a long time ago (firstly, science and philosophy killed it.) Hope is dead, but they still talk about it every day, everywhere. They are trying to deceive the people with hope. Even worse, people deceive themselves with hope.

There is almost no hope in Giorgos’ work. However, his poetry is not dark and bleak. Instead of hope, he uses the concepts of beauty and curiosity, which are, in my opinion, much more useful than hope. Also, behind this realistic ‘no hope’ facade, he has a mischievous child sticking his tongue out to the world. That’s where his sense of humour comes from. We can see this in poems like Mozambique is the wealthiest county in the world, and Charles Bukowski steals his book from me.

The second reason is death. We all know that death is a goldmine for poetry. Even when we write about life, we are writing about death without knowing it. Life and death are not separate, or against each other, but they are one and inseparable. Like in many societies, death is a taboo in our society too. We have adopted very unhealthy attitudes towards death (I consider this to be one of the main reasons of depression in modern times.) We are living as if we are not going to die and because of this we miss important opportunities and, in the end, we waste important parts of our life. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that we need poetry to remind us that we are transient. And we need poets like Giorgos to teach us better attitudes towards death.

Until today he has published eight poetry books. Now I’m really curious about the ninth one and as usual I trust Despina Pirketti for the translation.

Gürgenç Korkmazel is a 1969 Paphos-born poet, writer and translator. Since 1992 he has published six poetry books and three short story collections. He has prepared the Anthology of Greek Cypriot Poetry, and an Anthology of Turkish Cypriot Short Stories. Also, he has translated poems by Taner Baybars, John Clare and Lawrence Durrell. His books have been published in Nicosia, Istanbul and Athens. His selected poems are available in Greek translation by Angeliki Dimouli under the title The Last Day of Arthur Rimbault on the Island (Vakxikon Editions, Athens, 2017).

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