Παρασκευή, 6 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

Nobel because of artlessness


Translation: Mirka Zakinthinou

Copyright ©: Dimitris E. Soldatos 2009
Neohori, Lefkada 31084 Greece

Elias Kontogeorgis Publications
Copyright ©: 2008 for Greece and worldwide

Elias P. Kontogeorgis
“ta Nea tis Lefkadas”
Efstathiou Zakka 44
Lefkada 31100 Greece
Phone: 0030 26450 21494
Fax: 0030 26450 29494
Http: www.nealefkadas.gr

Dimitris E. Soldatos was born in Lefkada in 1969.
Beginning in 2000 and for many years thereafter he worked in the local newspaper “ta Nea tis Lefkadas” writing the column “the Poem of the Week” as well as many political and social-content articles. He pioneered in the maintenance of Sikelianos house and its conversion into a museum and found, maintained and gave to the public library of Lefkada the table on which Kostas Kariotakis wrote his last poems in Preveza.
He has published four poetical collections so far: Non-Existent, 1988.
Living Dead, 1989. Manual for the Ones in Love – out of trade – 2003.
The following year he published the collection “Cafe Retro” for which he was honoured in 2007 with the
award “Lambros Porfiras” from the Athens Academy.
Dimitris E. Soldatos is a marathon runner.


The Greek writer Gregorios Xenopoulos (1867-1951) said that“translation is like a woman: if she is faithful is not pretty and if she is pretty is not faithful”. 
When you’re dealing with a language as rich as Greek, this gets even harder, 
especially in this book where even the title itself is a game of words. Translated into Greek the title “Nobel because of artlessness” means something “artless”, but if you say these words together you hear “Nobel Prize in Literature”. 

This book is full of contrasting words. In almost every phrase in each verse you find high technique satire given with the simplest of means even in the sonnets that require quite a condensation of meaning. Apart from that, a characteristic trait of the poet’s writing is that “he judges life’s misery with an imposing truth”, to guote Shelley, that he is said to have inspired Alfred Nobel. 
In the magazine “DIAVAZO” No 487, page 86, Kostas Kanavouris writes: “Disrespectful and sacrilegious, with that underground tenderness that satire has, merciless and yet straightforward, Dimitris E. Soldatos wipes everything out”. 

Mirka Zakinthinou


Of the poetry Muse lover
if you are, don’t fondle – strike!
Even if you are not regarded as poet –
without a scarf, without a pipe!

The chabbering of everyone
makes my stomach sick.
And my proud posture
affects my verses so much
that I stand out
because I stand up
where the others bend.

That’s why I won’t bow
to critics of art,
in order to be regarded as an artist
but straight away I will be self-proposed
for a Nobel because of artlessness.

Sour I will get reception
in the circles and the unions
with lemon showers
which is the best thing for my upset stomach.

But even if all these “bury me”
I will be absent from my funeral
taking the title of the poet
poetic licence!


We have no wells, we have no springs,
just a few cisterns, empty as well.

G. Seferis

The Muses became nuns
and the art in the rocks
that was spout, that was spring,
now it’s a wound.
In the cisterns, that have all gone dry,
frogs croak.

There they are, at the corner of the road
the poor artists –
because they’re deaf, because they’re blind
think they’re Beethovens and Homers.


Before gangrene reaches
reach the ends by walking,
otherwise you will be mutilated
by the contaminated average.

The years have given the spirit
and the ephemeral became eternal.
I bring up viruses for your computers.

I break satellite dishes for my fun.
In order to pay your heavy taxes
I give back to you the blood of the wars.

In the glamorous nonsense of the fashion
I oppose my worn cloak.
Using money instead of kindling wood
I will burn the stinking rich,
so that wealth acquires a meaning.

In the supermarkets nectar and ambrosia,
but I will reach Olympus mountain on foot.
Turtle a Ferrari – don’t make me laugh! –
in the formula that imagination races.


Two handfuls of rice per three in China.
The blacks have become fly eaters.
The days of the white are black, so cry!
I’m telling you, the prostitutes and the undertakers

they will not starve from hunger.
If you want to spend your time well and swell
speedy education begin –
study with the shroud makers.

My child, be awake and alert.
You win life, if you slaughter your soul
like an animal is being slaughtered by a blade.

I also wanted from a young boy to become a slap
on people’s cheek – don’t laugh! –
but from all the slaps I got “I have seen stars”.


A lifetime you’re looking for a post.
Convenience is your lust and laziness.
You’re waiting from the clouds to fall
so you can sit comfortably, a chair.

A post at the P.O. of your neighbourhood
and the fine little salary when it comes
will send your dreams registered to their fulfilment,
when before the unfulfilment was their receiver.

A post of the big plans
worthy – a little post for you to possess
inside the conscience of the others.

Since you have no more self-esteem
take two posts: one in the office
and one in the public cemetery!


Women with dollars in their eyes.
Long hair – short brained and pretty.
Lovers of the Vain, forever passionate.
Affectionate mothers for every lie.

Women that epicentre and topic
like to be in the parties
stealing Miss Stupid’s crown.
Young ridiculous and mature fatal.

Women-tombs, shouting like morons,
filling their empty inside them space
with Gucci orgasms and Fa Cad’ oro.

Women that the word woman don’t deserve
they don’t even worth you becoming a misogynist.
Respect your saliva – do not spit on them!


With how many lights
will you decorate your sadness this year?

(sprayed on a wall)

In the butcher’s polythene bags
the turkeys are buried.
And the slaughtered innocent little trees
they shroud with lights.
This year the red balls
are in fashion – no others.
And the blood from Palestine
chants “Peace on Earth”.

In the supermarkets with coupons
you win presents – happy shopping!
On the Coca-Cola tin can
Santa Claus appears like a little bear.
And the old year the granddad
with lifting looks younger.

Times full of emptiness.
Seasons greetings, Christianity!


You push a button and you travel
hardly having walked at all
from your couch that you slouch
still, like a log, like a tree.

You push a button and you make fun of
the ones you want to be alike.
And from all those you get slapped
you spit on them in front of the screen.

You push a button, a little one
and the world shrinks into a tiny window
that faces all the Earth,
and no one can see you.

You push a button – how simple –
and bombs explode in your living room.
In this war remain fearless,
nobody is going to kill your fears.

Button after button you have undressed it all.
I leave you in naked TV viewings
along with violence and erection
that fill you up with sperm and blood.


I want to change my life
Means the life I lead is no longer good for me

But it’s easier to change the size
If the shoes are too tight
Than change your life
Even if you have become a number
You probably estimate it less than your feet
You need your feet to run
When you chase the bread of every day
To eat or not to be eaten
When you run run run
When they betray you or when you betray
When you run run run
To aim the aimless by moving
You need the legs to open them
And lift them high
Every time you fall
And the hands to point at yourself in the mirror
When you put on a smile when you go out
When you go out of your face
To be liked to those you don’t like
Only but
To plant a bullet in their skull
And because you can’t, you take your revenge
By loving them like you love yourself

I want to change my life means
That the deeds do still respond to words
If they don’t
To want to change my life doesn’t mean a thing

I HAVE NO STYLE Stilus (in Latin)

I have no style
Style have the dolls and dummies
At the fronts of the shops
I broke the front – where to enter?
After all I’ m not a doll
I have no style
Style have the sailors and the builders
I turned the sea into ink
And the making of verses isn’t regarded as work
I have no style
Style have the Athenians and the country politicians
I consider the language the capital
That doesn’t have periphery
And the “cross” – in the voting slip – I’m entitled
I think I’ll keep it for my grave…

I have no style
Style have the movie stars
And the footballers
I was but a shooting star
That was kicked about
I have no style
Style have those who believe in something
Or nothing
I was the something and thereafter the nothing
That once dreamed of everything

I have no style
Style have the many and not what expires
Style have the sellers of ideas
And the idealess citizens
Style have the years that jump off the balcony
So I don’t live them.
Style have the anniversaries of the national holidays
And the unjustified death of the heroes

Style have the grandfathers and grandmothers
When they tell fairytales
And their grandchildren when they buy them

Style have the machines
That grind coffee and meat and sometimes
Those that grind people –
But never those who made them

I have no style
Only a dagger (stil-etto) up my back
And a pen (stil-o) to poke my eyes out


When the Carnival is over
one and only favour I’d want:
nobody removes their mask –
wear it on throughout the year.

And the citizens and politicians
of this land
less are disguised
when they hide their face.


You reach to an age
When you think you have settled –
The most dangerous
The age of certainty –
The most uncertain
To the age of the incalculable calculations –
The most unreasonable
Suddenly you love mathematics
You hate literature
You pass in the class with average degree
And ignore that you know just about anything
You read the ephemeral in huge titles
And the huge in small letters
Stuck in the armchair in your pyjamas
Aware of eternal sleep
You think you’ve matured
Which means you are at a stage before rotting
You reach to an age
When you think you have settled
In your ideas your wishes and your beliefs

I have no idea what I want and what I believe
If I had
I would be at an age
Where I should review


All is forgotten – remember this!
It fades like a colored picture
With black and white people
Slowly the yellow fades
It gives its place to the white
That pretends innocence
For its criminal apathy
Sometimes high
Sometimes low, life
And never love in between
Between only emptiness
The vacuum of air that I inhaled
When your breath got away

Shades undefinely familiar
Like eyes that we first saw
As if we knew them from another life
In the nights they speak to me
With a sweet singing from birds on embalming trees

While there’s time yet
I revoke the thrills from the silky skin
When a hint of touch could
Dazzle the “doesn’t last” of every certainty
Numerous times
In the prairie of the voracious ephemeral
With the hyperaemic poppies
And the anaemic anemones
The eternal grazed
Inexperienced, I too bled it
In every lie transfusion

What so simply died
Reminds the farewell of two shaking hands
That slipped like electric eels
In love with mud…

“Eli, Eli”
“The Place of the Skull” wherever you are not
And a “lema sabachthani?”
From Good Thursday crucified
Spinkles me with blood – why did you abandon me?

My eyes
The whole world can drown in one tear only
And with one tear to float
When the impossible consents

Like everything newly-made
Like Adam and Eve
Love has its fall
It doesn’t have a fig leaf
Only Judas’ rope
On naked branches hanged
Judas is missing
Since Judas could anyone of us become

Now, allow me to wash my hands
In the oblivion of times
For you to be acquitted
For all the crimes I’ve done
As for example that I love you


She was begging right next to the Polytechnic School
Serbian woman dressed in black around seventy
Holding a sign with misspelling
Hiding her face behind it
Maybe out of shame from begging
Or maybe from despair
That nobody showed her any mercy
She was crying silently
It was that same day that I was getting my award
From Athens Academy for my poems
Being happy I gave in to her sorrow
Handing her 2 euros
I would give something more
If, the last moment, didn’t think
That perhaps the whole thing was a roguery
She took the coin with tears in her eyes
She kissed it and made the cross sign
As if she was thanking God for her daily bread
Then I went back and patted her hair
Like a Serbian poet would probably do
To my mother who would beg in his country
The same evening in the Academy
When the president handed me the award
I held it in my hands full of emotion
And I kissed the parchment
Making the sign of the cross
That God – the good luck – helped
I remembered the Serbian mother
And thought that sometimes
When need be
A coin in the hand of a hungry woman
Is equal with an Academy Award
In the hands of an ignored poet


This poem is not included in the Greek edition.
It was published in “ta Nea tis Lefkadas”, number 941.


Poetry is the marathon you run with your hands.
The marathon is the poetry you write with your feet…

The (Greek) poet faces 24 letters.
The marathon runner 42 kilometres –
You just reverse the number.

They both need a sense of rhythm
Step by step
Till the last verse is complete
And till the last metre is finished,
On the lines of the copybook and of the road.
Step by step
Solitude accompanies
The poet in the labyrinth of the phrases
And the runner of the long distances.

The tradition wants the messenger to be anonymous*
In Athens uttering “we have won” he passes away
Hinting that the message
Is more important than the messenger
Like the poem must be
More important than the poet.

The marathon has to contain poetry
As poetry also has to be marathonian
Otherwise we are all “defeated”.


This poem is not included in the Greek edition.
It was published in “ta Nea tis Lefkadas”, number 1007.

* After the Marathon battle between the Greeks and the Persians in 490 B.C.
a soldier messenger ran all the way to Athens to carry the message of victory.
Upon his arrival, according to tradition, the only words he managed
to say before he died were “we have won”.
The marathon was consecrated in the first Olympic Games of Athens in 1896,
in memory of this event. Although later historians tried to guess his identity,
the name of the messenger remains unknown.

1 σχόλιο:

  1. Εξαιρετικη μεταφραση. Προσδιδει το νοημα των ποιηματων στην αγγλικη γλωσσα οσο το δυνατον πιστοτερα. Μπραβο.