After Greece

Christopher Bakken

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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.

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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.

—Adam Zagajewski

There is no “after Greece,” nothing subsequent: the dust and what is beneath it are present forever in the poet’s mouth.

—Richard Howard

Contents

Foreword
Lynne McMahon

I
Terra Incognita
Dion
Motive
Alexandroupoli
Samothraki
Landscape with Kore
Zagora
Proteus
Behind the Theatre, Limenas
The Head
July
Cliff Lullaby
Alexander at Halkidiki
Dry Cistern at Phaestos
Daughter
The Maenad of Perea

II
The Shape of Seconds
Burning the Turk
At Xanthos
Ravenna
Home Thoughts, from Abroad
Climbing Olympus, 1992
Home
Dido
Melisses
Santorini
Finding the Stones

III
Philoctetes
On My Way Back
Kelifos
Portokali Beach
Orthodoxy
A Concert of Ancient Music, Houston
On Ruins
In the Same Place
The End of a Century: Hortiatis
Traverse

Afterword
Notes

 

Authors

Christopher Bakken was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1967. He is also the author of Goat Funeral, which was awarded the Helen C. Smith Memorial Prize by the Texas Institute of Letters for the best book of poetry published in 2006. He is also co-translator of The Lions’ Gate: Selected Poems of Titos Patrikios. He received his MFA in poetry from the Writing Seminars at Columbia University and his PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at University of Houston. He served as a Fulbright Scholar in American Studies at University of Bucharest, Romania, in 2008. He is associate professor of English at Allegheny College and teaches writing workshops in Greece.

Visit Christopher's website.

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