HENRY DENANDER was born in 1952 and lives in Stockholm, Sweden and on Hydra Island in Greece. For over 25 years he has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry. He is also the editor of Kamini Press, his small press for poetry and art.
Henry Denander’s books are I know What She Will Say (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2003), Weeks Like This (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005), Bring Down The Sun – together with Adrian Manning (ArtBureau, 2005), The Poetry of Mr. Blue (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2007) and The Loulaki Bar (Miskwabik Press, 2009).
His first poem was published in 1999 and now he’s had over two hundred poems and many illustrations published in small press magazines and on the web. He’s been published mainly in America but also in places like Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, India and the UK.
He has a website with poetry and art at www.henrydenander.com.
|7 AM at the Zeus hotel
Because of a long swim in the sun yesterday and
a three-hour long siesta in the afternoon, I wake up
before 7 AM this morning.
I sneak out of the room and take a table at the front
of the hotel, overlooking the beach. No one else is
around, no guests, only Paris Theodorakidis and
his dog Astero.
Paris gets me a cup of coffee and Astero leans her
head on my leg. The small city of Tolo starts to
wake up, there are deliveries of Loutraki water,
fish, fruit and vegetables. Some early swimmers
are heading down to the beach.
After a while Paris gives me an omelet and some
I have my notebook and the book on Mycenae, I
drink coffee, pat the dog and write some stuff in
Stuff like this.
at six in the morning I am
wakened by donkeys passing
in the narrow stone paved
on their way
down to the port.
a rooster from the garden
|Ghikas & the razor
Ghikas commented on my long beard when
I entered his grocery store; I said it had
grown too long to shave and I needed to go to
the barber to have it cut.
But he said he had a razor that would work and
showed me the Bic Metal Plus T7.
After I’d paid for everything he told me that
every time he slaughters a pig he shaves it
with one of these razors,
it’s the only one that works.
We both laughed and I could hear him
laughing even after I’d left the store.
In the evening when we walked by,
I was clean-shaven and we were heading
down to the port for dinner.
“You look nice”, Ghikas said when we passed.
I was flattered.
Just like a commercial
interrupting a movie on TV,
this Hydrofoil boat disturbs our view
from the small beach at Vlychos.
The Hydrofoil from Spetses to Hydra
passes just outside the beach with the
hills of Peleponnessos in the background.
The beautiful white and blue boat that
used to look like a part of the scenery
is now bright red with a large
Vodafone logotype all over the side.
I am a traditionalist, I do not like any
modern stuff on the island, I want
everything to be in the old style.
I am orthodox but if someone invented a
remote control for this Hydrofoil
I would be the first to use the
Fast Forward button.
|Henry Miller vs Ghikas in Hydra 1939
The ruins of the painter Ghikas’ house are still there,
on the slopes facing the Kamini harbor on Hydra island.
We heard that the property was sold to someone from Athens
but nothing has happened since the fire in 1960 that destroyed
the beautiful mansion and made Ghikas leave Hydra
I’ve climbed up the hills many times to see if I could
get inside the house. Once I managed to get to the top
of the property but it was impossible to climb down to
the ruins. I would have to walk through the place where
donkeys now are kept and I would have to find out
who the owners are.
My friend the American painter and I dream of
getting inside the house. He wants to take his easel there
and paint the view from the terrace. I want to go inside and
see if maybe the table tennis set is still there;
|I want to have a game on the very table
where Henry Miller and Ghikas used to play.
Henry Miller came here in 1939,
to visit Hydra and to write about Greece.
And to beat Ghikas in ping-pong.
|Henry Miller is listening
The sun has not yet risen over the
roof of Athanasia’s house and the lemon tree in
the empty lot next door is still in the shade
as well as our terrace where I drink my
cup of coffee.
It isn’t eight o’ clock yet and since
early morning I’ve been listening to the chickens and
the loud rooster next door in Maria the candle maker’s
|There is heavy traffic in the narrow alley just outside
our door; every half hour a horse or a donkey passes
our house on the way down to the port – the
animals have to work even on this Saturday morning.
Someone has started a fire, probably making coffee in
one of the old houses around – saving on the electricity.
When Henry Miller visited Greece and this island in 1939 he
wrote about the Greek way of being loud and
playing loud music, as if they wanted to assert
their ego over their neighbors
just by being louder.
They still do
but they have great respect for the quiet
moments of the day; the early morning,
the siesta in the afternoon and
the late night – then it’s all very quiet and
at midnight, when they sit in their gardens,
Was it Mr Miller who taught them such
Henry Miller passed the island of Poros on his way to
Hydra in 1939 and from the boat he could see straight
into the houses of the Greek families.
Over the years I have always looked at the port of
Poros from the ferryboat trying to catch this view and
today, coming really close to land I suddenly saw the
three story house with the big balcony doors and at
the far end of the big room I saw an old woman on a
chair looking out at the ship.
Here it was at last, the view from The Colossus of
Maroussi: the boat sailing through the streets of
Poros, the old house, the big room and it could be the
same woman now 64 years older.
Maybe she was looking for Henry the same way
I was looking for her.
|The importance of being thirsty
The first Greek word that Henry Miller learned when
he visited Greece in 1939 was “nero”, the beautiful Greek
word for water.
Greece is hot in July and August and every time we
have visitors from Scandinavia we have to
tell them the importance of drinking a lot of
For us it’s natural to bring a water bottle when we
take a walk in the middle of the day but
sometimes you hear someone say they aren’t
thirsty and don’t want to drink.
But soon, when they feel weak and without any
strength, they also learn this beautiful and
important Greek word.
Can we have some water please?
All poems and artwork on this post: © Henry Denander
Published with the permission of Henry Denander