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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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REVIEW


of


Dimitris Lyacos's book

With the People from the Bridge

(Shoestring Press, 2014)


by Artemis Michailidou


 


Dimitris Lyacos’s With the People from the Bridge, which recently came out in Shorsha Sullivan’s impeccable translation, is the second volume of the poet’s Poena Damni trilogy (the other two being The First Death and Z213: EXIT). Not wishing to spend too much time on features already explored by other reviewers, I will not discuss the book’s intriguingly mysterious plot, overpowering setting, or its alluring – and, occasionally, mesmerizing – rhythm. Nor will I refer to Lyacos’s use of language – simultaneously cryptic and yet richly suggestive of an alternative universe, dominated by unique psychological realities and intellectual vistas. By contrast, I would like to focus on the poet’s impressive understanding of the appeal of postmodern eclecticism – the thing that struck me the most when I first read With the People from the Bridge. Of course, words like “postmodernism” or “eclecticism” are seldom neutral or merely descriptive; as we all know, their connotations are sometimes ambiguous, to say the least, or downright unflattering. Since a deeper discussion of this matter falls beyond the scope of this review, suffice it to say here that, with the term “eclectic”, I do not refer to the superficial “showing off” that we often encounter in contemporary avant-garde projects – in other words, to the tedious parade of predictable intertextual allusions that seem both meaningless and undigested. What I do refer to, however, is the sensitive, integrated tribute to authors and works that have somehow (re)defined our perception of the pioneering: from Beckett, Dali, Dante, Sartre, and Kafka (already mentioned by critics such as Michael O’Sullivan, Allison Elliott, or Manos Georginis) to Edgar Allan Poe, Juan Rulfo, or even Sarah Kane, Lyacos’s writing reveals an unparalleled understanding of the importance of having formidable artistic molds, and of the need to break them or reshape them.


If you are looking for the kind of poetic composition that relies mainly on emotional thrills and the exposition of feeling, then With the People from the Bridge may not be your cup of tea. But if you are looking for a rewarding, original read that will stimulate your mind further, then you should definitely get hold of the above book.


                                                                                                     ***

 

Artemis Michailidou is an Assistant Professor of the English Language and Literature at the Hellenic Military Academy, Greece.