Κριτική βιβλίου από τον Jeffrey Levett

Ανθολογία: “The sea belongs to 1000 voices” Editor Hannie Rouweler

Jeffrey Levett International Gusi Peace Prize Laureate, Honorary President, World Philosophical Forum, Athens

Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

Two coincidental events that moved me recently relate to women. One comes out of an Iranian prison and its female inmates and the other from this book of poems [The sea belongs to 1000 voices. International Female Anthology]. It provides direction away from lunacy. Poetry is a bridge between prisoned and free, between ages and genders and a unifier.

One comment I heard recently was women always had a voice but it was not heard. Now we have a 1000 as well as Voices from the Ukrainian heartland, as I looked in horrified. Flashes of fire in the air, black smoke,  earth beaten by tanks, corpses of the assaulted, and the attackers, mass graves, their last abode. 

The first is the fifth birthday of imprisonment of Niloufar Bayani, a conservationist in the notorious Evin Prison, Iran. Isolated and removed from scholarly activities she teaches a course on climate change to her fellow inmates. One outcome is a courageous letter on the threat of climate change to the authorities expressing their grave concern for the future of Iran and the world while advocating for the Iranian authorities to take mitigating actions to reduce planetary pain. The second event was pleasurable when I was given  a copy of the sea belongs to 1000 voices a modest  international female anthology of Poetry & Prose from 13 countries from Demer Press. It is an emphasis of the female voice and a meaningful celebration amplified by a 1000 voices. Its Editor, Hannie Rouweler does not fail in wishing the reader pleasure and an interesting journey through words, imagery and concepts.

Consequently, it is a distinctive pleasure for me to provide some comments on this modest volume of female poetry and prose. I do so willingly but with hesitation. The challenge of adding value to this gentle anthology is not easy. So if my comments etc. cause one of its authors or another to write a line or two I will consider my effort very well spent, mission accomplished.  If they accept my use of their word creations I will be satisfied. To fall short of a goal is not such a big deal if it is seen as the start of something new.

Starting, setting out, taking a first step is always difficult but it is said to be half the journey. So let me say that going  down – it was always, down to the shore, always romantic, sometimes therapeutic and when it is deserted  a way of reaching back. It gives some notion of how to take a new beginning or a second step. On the beach alone, was my personal space for contemplation, which need not lead anywhere. Somewhere in a deep recess of the brain it was a place to see, hear and feel the pulse of global pain; pain which tears up of the earth and manufactured plastics pollute all rivers that run into oceans so that waterways overflow with them. 

Instead of a typical review let me give you my cluster poem with words and phrases from our female poets; philosophical, concentrated and freely branching, with an effort to maintain rhythm, musicality and recitative. Let it provide direction away from lunacy.

The light weighted air bubble

The doorknocker bounces on old wood stirring the mess inside Where flickering flames and anxious thoughts abound

And just beyond the threshold a life to live to go on and survive 

White dawn awakes playing with light wrapped in mystery

Bringing joy like a shy rain once brought by gods

A knowing hug, a swift embrace, feathers floating up not down

The moon above the ocean pulsing from its breeze

And which one day will become dust to nourish a dry earth

Cling not to the corner of a dream, hold not desire

Don’t follow as a shadow but let the morning give breath to them

A voiceless celebration with lusty wind and roaring waves

Green leaves and fresh fruity scents, from shameful roots

White dawn with fog, noonful surprise and darkness laughing out loud

Mouths moved to open ears to hear joy in the air

Victim should you wish surrender burn, fear caught in some persistent fog

A look of doom forgotten hunger flame and light

In another life, children would admit spring with sunset’s candle and a sea close by

Some call it sleep not in the grass of a meadow bathed in sun

Where sadness and nostalgia might invade seeing the deep scars of our world

We must walk on along the path while healing it as we go

The world began in a water flood dawn a sudden sun

And end grace said by light above the woodpile burn

No more the sweet lullabies, births, ballads and the Mona Lisa smile Did hubris lead us here?

So let us hand in hand go on into the sunset of late spring 

A kindly smile remembered by the grass of the wilderness

I am sure that Lysistatis whose voice bought peace, momentarily, would applaud 1000 voices! In its imagery we are confronted with  recurrent themes; the transience of life, the inevitability of death, and the importance of seizing the all-too-brief moment as well as enjoyment in our joyous errand on earth. Everything which others take for granted is questioned, everything,: faith, the hereafter and life’s meaning; there is little confidence in religion’s promise, of heaven and hell and doubt is expressed regarding the logic of God. Those who put pen to paper to make this volume should be congratulated and keep in mind that your moving finger has written and there is no going back. 

Let me finish with great-grandmother Siraya who lived when herds ran free, Singing and herding sheep on hillsides, Wearing flowers upon her head, planting yams in fields, giving birth, raising offspring in a thatched hut. Her grave, now a  building, her language no longer understood, Dances dance steps of colonists in the village square, Ignorantly drinking alcohol. And year by year the village goes through earth-shaking surges; villages go through heavy, deep-rooted, heart-wrenching pain.