Winner of the 2001 T. S. Eliot Prize
An account of travel and a collection of ecstatic lyrics, these poems excavate an idea of place, one layered deep for the poet and archaeologist to discover. We encounter the obsessions of a hellenized barbarian—of an American poet residing in, not touring, an environment haunted by profane revelations and sacred commonplaces. We move beyond the crowded sites and restored monuments, to places where the presence of the ancient world is still palpable in the violent realities of the modern Balkans. Looking through these poems into artifacts and ruined places, we hear “spirits of that barren landscape call out still,” and we feel, again and again, what connects us to the past is stronger than what separates us from it.
The language is lucent, calm, introspective, and emphatic, never self-centered, and the questions about interpretation, history, the transitory nature of pleasure, and of the seeming self-sufficiency of objects I found important and compelling.
—Lynne McMahon, 2001 T. S. Eliot Prize Judge
After Greece is a fruit not of tourism but of a loving quest for the substance of our culture; Christopher Bakken’s beautiful book inscribes itself into a dignified tradition of traveling to the countries of the richest past without giving up the sometimes skeptical lucidity of our present moment.
There is no “after Greece,” nothing subsequent: the dust and what is beneath it are present forever in the poet’s mouth.