Miltos Sachtouris
(Greece, 1919)   
 
 
 
Miltos  Sachtouris

The rejection of a decorative use of poetic language, and the greatest possible condensing as a permanent method for creating style are two elements that accompany Miltos Sachtouris in most of his collections. Things and their uses are described with relative fidelity, poetic action is enhanced thanks to a quick succession of images-episodes, whilst the descriptive part of the narration (space layout, details about the elements that demarcate it) is minimised to the lowest possible degree.

Given that Sachtouris never interposes psychological descriptions and avoids ideological labelling, the clarity of his images and the vortex of their succession on the screen transform the worn-out idea of a lost paradise into a potent motif, whilst viscerally supporting its misused function. Sachtouris creates idea-generating images that are endowed with substantive value. Far from representing visualised ideas, they offer a material outline within which mental representations may be properly received.

Sachtouris beckons us to touch his traumas and wounds and to ponder on his future. Nevertheless, he forbids us to think of ways to cure him or to ungracefully or extortionately explain his plights, since he believes that this matter does not fall under his competency. Showing us the symptoms ought to be enough – anything beyond that would be sheer prolixity.

What is paramount is the image. Its excellence is unquestionable in the sense of it being not just a structural unit but a prolonged, independent vector of meaning, which directly draws its origins from expressionistic theory and practice.

The use of images ought to go beyond the dry recording of external reality. Images acquire autonomous power, thus they become unfettered from the limiting nature of the mirror; thanks to the symbolic nuances that images are imbued with by the author, they create an inner landscape that, although still reflecting experiences and feelings of every day life, is light years away from the realism of social decadence or from the lyrical style of a personal confession. The odd and excessive elements that we can discern in the expressionistic images stand for the fixed – albeit invisible to the naked eye – characteristics of a world that suffers to its very core.

Sachtouris’ images develop into self-reliant, symbolic units that go beyond isolated episodes and casuistry in general, so as to create a dissonant introverted universe, in which objects, animals, humans and machines are gradually degraded to substitutes of reality, without however shedding their commonly accepted qualities.

What Sachtouris sees in the Occupation, the Civil War and the social and political amoralism during the first couple of decades after the war is the inability of people as a collective body to prioritise certain moral values and solutions as an antidote to the crisis of the times. Nevertheless, although Sachtouris observes the same things that others of his generations also ponder on, he reaches rather different conclusions: the dead of the armed conflict and the civil strife are not unvindicated people fallen for a just cause, but tremulous heroes of an epic in which both victims and persecutors take equal part. History is not transformed into indelible memory but rather into a contemporary tragedy, which is being staged with the very same intensity to our own day. Lastly, disillusionment is not tantamount to the loss of a confused dream but to an awareness of actuality: paradise does not exist, and, more likely than not, it never did.

© Vangelis Hatzivasileiou

More about Miltos Sachtouris' poetry:
Introduction to Miltos Sachtouris poetics, by Yiannis Dallas
Aphorisms and numbers, by D. Maronitis

Publications (selection):
Face au mur. Trans. Jacques Bouchard. Athenes - Montpellier. Fata Morgana. 1990.
Quando vi parlo. Trans. Paola Maria Minucci. Roma. Fondazione Piazzolla. 1993.
With face to the wall. Trans. Kimon Friar. Washington, D.C. The Charioteer Press. 1968.
Collected poems. Trans. Kimon Friar. Old Chatham, N.Y. Sachem Press. 1982.
Quiclime. Trans. John Stathatos. London. Oasis Books. 1974.
Trans. Michel Volkovitch. Paris. Les Cahiers Du Confluent. 1985.
Het hoofd van de dichter. Trans. Bernadette Wildenburg. Groningen. Styx Publications. 1993.
Strange Sunday. Trans.John Stathatos. Frome. Hunting Raven. 1984.
Gedichte. Trans. Andrea Kapsaski. Koln. Romiosini. 1990.
Poemes I. Trans. Michel Volkovitch. Paris. Cahiers grecs. 1995. 52 óåë.
Poemes II. Trans. Michel Volkovitch. Paris. Cahiers grecs. 1995.

 



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