Panayotis Ioannidis

Panayotis Ioannidis

Panayotis Ioannidis was born in 1967 in Athens, where he now lives. He has published three poetry books: The lifesaver, 2008; Uncovered, 2013; Poland, 2016 (all by Kastaniotis Editions, Athens); a fourth, Rhinoceros, is forthcoming. He is also one of the seven authors of the collective essay book, A conversation about poetry now (FRMK, Athens 2018).

His poems have appeared in two English-language anthologies (T. Chiotis, Futures, Penned in the Margins, London 2015; K. Van Dyck, Austerity Measures, Penguin, London 2016); NYRB Books, New York, 2017), two German ones (M. Topali, Dichtung mit Biss, Romiossini Edition, Berlin 2018; W. Knithaki & A. Kasnitz, Kleine Tiere zum Schlachten, Parasiten Presse, Koln 2017), and several (Greek, English, Swedish, and Turkish) journals.

He is poetry editor for the Greek monthly “The Books’ Journal” and the English-language arts site “Und.Athens”, as well as a member of the editorial board of the biannual journal for poetry, theory and the visual arts, “FRMK”. He also curates the monthly poetry readings, “Words (can) do it”; translates English-language poetry (S. Heaney, R. Creeley, T. Gunn, D. Harsent, a.o.).; and teaches poetry as creative writing to children (e.g. in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation’s Cavafy Archive) and adults (e.g. at the British Council, Athens).

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BURNING CANDLE

First time this spring I held two candles
at Good Friday’s Epitaph procession
I not quite a believer

Still, since three years ago
I always light two candles
in the tiniest chapels

Since we say the soul falters
I light them up tenaciously naive
and with the expectation of the faithful

Then we say – gone
But I will not ever forget
how your face lit up austere

one night when seeing me
blow out a candle flame
You take its soul away. Never

blow it out. Always
with wetted fingers touch the wick
– inside your palm

gather the flame
don’t scatter it away

Since then I’m always careful

without explaining even though I’m teased
for such an odd attention. It is worth
wetting the fingers

tenderly holding the flame
it is worth the effort
the slight risk that your hand

cowardly, hesitant, may get burnt
that a soul may burn you
as it –temporarily– retreats

But before dozing yesterday I forgot
blew out the flame – the wall
got splashed above the second pillow

with melted candle wax
Nothing then could comfort me – as if
it were a human being – and I were to blame

from The lifesaver
translated by Panayotis Ioannidis and Stefanos Basigkal
© Kastaniotis Editions, Panayotis Ioannidis, and Stefanos Basigkal
Also published in “Poetry London” 82, 2015; reproduced on the “Poets.Gr” platform

 
EXCURSION

Sleep in the countryside
sun waking –
dreams, laden lemon trees

At the cold inlet
we fill our pockets with pebbles
But beauty returns
where it always was

from Uncovered
translated by Adrianne Kalfopoulou
© Kastaniotis Editions, Panayotis Ioannidis, and Adrianne Kalfopoulou

 
THE NEXT DAY

Dressed in black she comes out on the balcony
above the rubbish
of yesterday’s feast
The wind blows wildly unsettling tables not yet laid for dinner
but leaves her hair unruffled
– drawn back so tightly
and held there by time

She steps slowly
from balustrade to wall, then wall to balustrade
while weightless tourists below
glide by the scenery
– water, colours, light

Life passes
Reaches black then goes on

from Uncovered
translated by Elaine Feinstein
© Kastaniotis Editions, Panayotis Ioannidis, and Elaine Feinstein

 
JULY 2009 / 1992

What are Bach’s cantatas doing in midsummer?
On the other CD, the singing waters
of Alhambra’s fountains
cool me still

and remind me of the high noon when I sat
on the lace of twin balconies
first on one, then the other
the long water between them, a mirror
The heat was unbearable, July of ’92 in Andalusia.
Alicia when we ventured out at night
in vain would fan Sevilla’s air
what else could a girl do
from evergreen Avila
where she’d find refuge soon
whilst I would criss-cross for one more month
up and down Europe
changing trains
at night
Two Finnish students found themselves
the guests of honour at a Marrakesh wedding
Bruno was sadder still
though swimming now in money in sodden Brussels
The Turkish young antique dealer
and two jade rings in Amsterdam
(I would offer one in a few months’ time
–a useless amulet– to the Yosemite poet)
Bruges and Gand
Zeno’s and young Marguerite’s –
flooded in sun, the Agnus Dei
only appeared
twice a day
And Nina Simone
would remind me of Bach
on the attic’s turntable

from Poland
translated by Panayotis Ioannidis
© Kastaniotis Editions and Panayotis Ioannidis

 
Published with the permission of Panayotis Ioannidis