Award-Winning Greek Poetry Added to Anti-Austerity Arsenal

    “If you cannot find springtime, you invent it.” Silent until now, Greece’s poets on Wednesday added their voice to protests against austerity measures imposed on the country in return for EU-IMF loans.

    Some 1,000 self-styled “children of Homer”, the epic ancient poet, marched in central Athens along the well-trodden path to parliament taken by hundreds of anti-austerity protests before them.

    This time, however, the slogans were good enough for a Nobel literature prize.

    “This is not just another protest — it’s a different protest,” said poet George Houliaras, one of the organisers of the initiative that rallied support from prominent journals and publishing houses.

    The demonstration was timed to coincide with World Poetry Day and also meant “to show a different image of the country, and remind Greeks that the power of culture can help us emerge from the situation we find ourselves in,” Houliaras said.

    Alexandros, 17, bore a banner with a verse from Odysseas Elytis, one of Greece’s greatest poets and a Nobel laureate in 1979.

    “Greeks have been writing poetry in the same language for 2,000 years, no other country can claim the same,” the serious-faced youth told AFP. “With words of poetry, we can fight any measures imposed on us.”

    Poetic verse helped Greeks endure another harsh period in the country’s history, the seven-year military dictatorship in the late 1960s.

    The work of several poets cited in Wednesday’s protest — Odysseas Elytis, Yiannis Ritsos and 1963 Nobel laureate George Seferis — were later set to music by renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, a resistance icon under the junta.

    Several of the demonstrators opted for one of Seferis’ best-known adages: “Wherever I go, Greece hurts me.”
    (source, foto: AFP)


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