Elsa Korneti

Elsa Korneti

Active in organizing readings and events with other poets, Elsa Korneti was born in Munich, Germany, but grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece and still lives there. Appropriately, given the long history of cosmopolitanism in Greece’s second city, there is a clear glocalism at work in her poetry’s interlacing of English and other languages with Greek.

Her career has been similarly diverse: studies in finance were followed by work as a journalist; she has published essays, book reviews, translations, short stories, and eight books of poetry. Two poetry collections of her, A Bouquet of Fishbones and The Tin Pearl, were nominated for the Greek National Poetry Award, and a third, Regular People with a Plume and a Brindled Tail, received the George Karter Award from the literary magazine Porphyras.

Part of her work has been translated and published in foreign anthologies and literary magazines in ten languages.


Look at me please
This is my new carnival outfit
this year I dressed as a sea chandelier

Snake hair undulates on my brow
Inward electrified cables
crystal head a magnifying glass
so I can gaze with the water a prism
at the infinite from the seabed
so I can be a blue star
a self-satisfied wheel that endlessly rolls
around itself

There’s a way for me to conquer him
to swallow him whole
to digest his bones

With body a hydraulic pump
a bell that whines
I become a fearsome monster
and stick like a sucker
to the face

No comb
brushes me
whoever touches me
is paralyzed

I’ll love
whoever finds me
whoever without turning to stone
gazes at me

the Toxic Gorgon Medusa
who pollutes the sea
like a blue

© Translated by David Connolly


The elderly lady
One hundred years of age
With the black scales
With the invincible bone plating
Basks peaceful in the sun

Waiting in vain to soar
She realizes that her watery world
Remains subterraneanly stable
She often considers that
It requires great craft in order
For her to withstand the overflow
Of invisible volumes of water
It requires great talent
For her to deviously creep up
On every prospective meal
Great repute in order
For her to be proclaimed
The notorious carnivorous reptile
That time favours more than the vultures
A mother’s great heart in order
For her to conceal her descendants
In the water lilies

Yet she can
In a recollection of innocence
The edge of a nettle
Live searching for
One more dreamy association
As she sinks
In the priceless gift
Of the deluge

She can
Allow them all
The curious, the astounded
To ask her:
Do you have anything more to add?
A crocodile tear

© Translated by David Connolly


I want to swim in a new soul
as blue
as carefree
as noiseless
as the sea’s pregnancy.

Why should I have to endure
the sweet expectation
of an infant deception
that preferred to abandon me
for the temporary existence
of the yellow leaf?

Give me a reason to do so.
For one more extension of immortality?

© Translated by David Connolly


Donna Anna
I wish I had the strength to hate
but we must part
Don Juan
When shall we meet again?
Donna Anna
Another time?
Don Juan


Velvet befits the darkness
What about silk?
Lace perhaps?
Yes, lace!
The image of the perforated
The holes
Open mouths gaping
They allow the cold to pass
Perhaps slightly immoral
Especially when they become misshapen
The holes in long lace sleeves
Countless tiny black eyes
How piercingly they stare at you
Eyes masks
Velvet eyes masks
How persistently you wore them
Yet they don’t belong to you, they are
Borrowed eyes
Borrowed eyes velvet masks
However many you wear
You can’t hide from
The cracks in your self
The mirror’s explosions
The touches of others
When from your body pulling
Silk threads
They slowly and deviously unravel you
You come apart
You lose the predator’s glow
Gazing over the valley of lost loves
Your tongue retains the taste of chaos

“Guardandomi allo specchio mi metto a ridere”
“ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”

Looking in your mirror you laugh
Looking from your window you age
Looking at the crowd you fear
A crowd of people lances
Awaits your irreversible step

Greed is punished
With more devilish intercourse
With a female punch
With a male kick
Remember before leaving to tidy the room
Every now every later
Remember to again plan the vulnerable room
That you might re-define yourself
Remember to return the stolen hearts
That you might with passion begin to live each dead day
Under a strange delusion

As a genuine acrobat of desire
just before returning to your wet blue destiny
you shout to them:


just before falling you shout to her

          Tomorrow my love!

© Translated by David Connolly


His mind is made up
Today he will become light
He’ll shed the iron suit and the steel necktie
Throw his desk out of the office window into emptiness
Wear only fine, clean Bohemian crystal

His mind is made up
Today he will become
An impetuous crystal knight
Today he will become a batty baker of a knight
At the break of each dawn he’ll knead out of lotus leaves the world he longs for
And then he’ll fill the sky with pillowy multicolored loaf-balloons
To feed immaculate and dreamy planets

His mind is made up
Today he will become a partisan of the aberrant idea
For those who find themselves lost in the desert of madness
Can only place their faith in the absurd
And he walks alone
Dressed in white because
His is a desert of flour
Malicious birds peck at the balloons
And his loaves rain down on him like meteorites
His dreams are crushed in truth’s grindstone
Pouring through the pitted wings of a windmill
They sprinkle the clouds with the indifference of the winds

And Dulcinea?
His Dulcinea was a transvestite angel who turned his head
With a blonde wig and the long lace wedding dress of

His mind is made up
Today he’ll shatter lightness
Into a thousand pieces
So that he may fly
Without putting on any airs.

© Translated by Patricia Felisa Barbeito

Published with the permission of Elsa Korneti