Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Homeland:Eighteen Bitter Songs
Versions of Yannis Ritsos
by David Harsent
Date of Publication : 4 March 2021.
Available now to pre-order
David Harsent has published thirteen volumes of poetry. Legion won the Forward Prize for best collection; Night was triple short-listed in the UK and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Fire Songs won the T.S.Eliot Prize. A new collection, Loss, appeared in January 2020. In Secret, Harsent’s versions of Yannis Ritsos, published in 2012, was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.
John Kittmer has a PhD in modern Greek literature and is working on the poetry of Yannis Ritsos.
Critical praise for Homeland:-
The poetics of an ongoing and bitter revolution needs to be compressed and tough while offering hope. The Greek poet Yannis Ritsos’s Eighteen Bitter Songs, set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, were written in hardship under the rule of the Colonels in 1968. They make a set of eighteen double couplets focusing on the tribulations and consolations of struggle in a natural landscape. David Harsent renders them with a clarity, precision and austere passion that is perfect for our times.
These exquisite and beautifully chiselled poems themselves become, in Ritsos’s words as translated by Harsent, “a door that opens onto Greece”: conjuring Greek landscape, Greek poetry and Greek heartache.
The sober, elegant design of Homeland: Eighteen Bitter Songs commends itself to the hand and the eye, and is perfectly suited to the grave music of David Harsent’s versions of Yannis Ritsos.
David Harsent’s new versions of that abundant poet Yannis Ritsos’ tersest poems are timely: it is as if Greek tenacity, now in the testing times of economic calamity, needed to be honoured anew. They are shrewd and often surprising recreations of poems whose reticence is a form of resistance.
David Ricks, Professor Emeritus of Modern Greek and Comparative Literature, King’s College, London
Ritsos’s curt and sometimes cryptic verses are like the ‘Bitter Songs’ that a person in political danger might sing, sotto voce, to sustain his or her spirit of resistance. Harsent finds and holds just the right pitch to convey to the English reader their urgency and quiet power.
Monday, 30 November 2020
In the fourth of a series of formal verse satires that began in 2011 with Get Real! and which included Trench Feet (2014) and A Dog’s Brexit (Melos, 2017) Nicholas Murray evokes the Welsh Marches in early winter, when “frost lays its dust-sheet on the Radnor Hills”, contemplating, in rustic confinement in a pandemic, a world of “smirking kleptocrats on giant screens”, and the fate of the Earth “we treat so roughly”.
Nicholas Murray is a poet and literary biographer living in Powys. His most recent full-length poetry collection, The Yellow Wheelbarrow, was published in 2019 by the Melos Press.
In The Manchester Review Ian Pople praised: “...the quiet rhythmic pulse with underpins all Murray’s poems. That assured rhythmic control is often allied with a closely observational sense in Murray’s writing”.
You can order the new pamphlet here (see side panel) post free at £5.
Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Saturday, 26 September 2020
We were pleased that the Irish Times reviewer, Sean Hewitt, liked Roisin Tierney’s pamphlet Mock-Orange calling the poems “skilful and atmospheric”. He continued: “These unsettling dark lyrics have a wonderful verbal energy; a mythic imagination.”
Copies of the pamphlet are still available here and you can also read two new poems of Roisin in the latest issue of Dark Horse magazine.
You can see Róisín reading from the pamphlet on our You Tube channel.