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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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


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


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

For other contributions by Panayotis Ioannidis, please follow the link below:

  • Η χαμένη θεά - The Lost Goddess by Anna Griva


    • Adrian Grima
      © Photo: Virginia Monteforte Adrian Grima (Malta, 1968) is an associate professor of Maltese literature at the University of Malta and a visiting lecturer at INALCO in Paris, and he has worked . . .
    • Nikos Fokas
      One of the most important figures in contemporary Greek literature, Nikos Fokas was born on the Greek island of Kefalonia in 1927 and educated in Athens. From 1960 to 1974 he lived in London and . . .
    • Ruth Padel
      Ruth Padel is a British poet, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London. She started out as a classicist at Oxford and has lived many years in Greece and Crete. . . .
    • David Mason
      David Mason’s books of poems include The Buried Houses (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), The Country I Remember (winner of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award), and Arrivals. His . . .
    • Hedi Bouraoui
      Hédi Bouraoui was born in Sfax, Tunisia. Educated in France and the United States, he is University Professor Emeritus at York University, Toronto, Canada. He is the former Chair, French . . .
    Lonely Planet Cyprus (Travel Guide) - Buy at Amazon

    “Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind, for on the one hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Charybdis kept sucking up the salt water. As she vomited it up, it was like the water in a cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire, and the spray reached the top of the rocks on either side. When she began to suck again, we could see the water all inside whirling round and round, and it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the men were at their wits ends for fear. While we were taken up with this, and were expecting each moment to be our last, Scylla pounced down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last despairing cry. As a fisherman, seated, spear in hand, upon some jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor little fishes, and spears them with the ox’s horn with which his spear is shod, throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one by one—even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock and munch them up at the mouth of her den, while they screamed and stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony. This was the most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyages.

    Translator: Samuel Butler

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