Sullen, you speak of the variable weather
and over-emphasize your consonants
but pretend not to notice
these corpses lining the streets.
Then you tell us of spring that is coming
finding her way through closed doors
and you go on walking, defiant
Finally you disappear towards where
trees paradoxically grow closer to each other
and birds, for reasons unclarified,
— translated by Panayotis Ioannidis
Some spring, indeed: variable weather, corpses, strange formations and numbers of trees and of birds — and a human pretending not to notice. And yet, this poem was not written during the current pandemic. Four years ago already, Eirini Goltsiou included it in her first (and only, so far) book. Ultrasounds (Entefktirio, Thessaloniki, 2017) was quite an astonishing debut: from a 33 year-old poet who had first seen her poems in print at 16. Their slow distillation into a book perhaps partly accounts for its assured tone, steady voice, measured musicality and great range of subjects, despite its slim volume: 30 poems, most not exceeding the single page.
The book's opening lines — the opening lines of the first poem, “Symbol under the Underground” — are perhaps emblematic: “Veils leaving; / air, rather, that reveals.” The poem ends: “and underneath the weeping willow / meet the void / which nonchalantly smoking / waits for you.” A striking, sometimes surrealist, sometimes expressionist, imagery blends marvelously with a symbolistic inclination, in this and other poems. Memory; open landscapes (mirroring interior ones); poems that address or narrate; possible or declared allusions (e.g. “Your Estella”; or a dedication to 'expressionist' Greek poet Miltos Sachtouris (1919-2005), whose spare, often violent imagery occasionally subtly informs E.G.'s own) populate the book, confirming its maturity.
Eirini Goltsiou was born in Thessaloniki in 1984. She studied History and Archaeology in that city's Aristotelian University. She now lives in Katerini, working in the private education sector. Her poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies.
Pictured: A painting by Iranian artist Mostafa Sarabi, currently on view at the exhibition A Stranger in the Island, at The Island Club in Limassol, Cyprus. Read more about the exhibition here.