I was inspired to read Kavafis' poetry while reading He Will Laugh by the gay poet Douglas Ray. There's a bit of buzz going on about poetry within the LGBT community. I reviewed two LGBT poetry books this month which is unusual, and have seen the increase in published collections. An interesting development. Yes? You'll ask, how does that tie in with Kavafis? Well, we all know about Oscar Wilde, and (as I found out in another site) not everyone knows about Walt Whitman, but did you know that Kostantinos P. Kavafis is considered one of the early modern authors to write openly about homosexuality?
Konstantinos P. Kavafis (April 29, 1863 to April 29, 1933) was born in Alexandria, Egypt of Greek parents. Although Kavafis was Greek, he lived in Alexandria most of his life and didn't write most of his most acclaimed poetry until he was in his 40's. His poetry is considered Hellenistic, and although history can be found sprinkled throughout the core of his poetry, for many the allure of Kavafis' poetry really lies in the direct and open way in which he portrays sensual pleasures, his prosaic use of metaphors and the repeated use of themes such as the uncertainty of life and/or the future, and that fatalistic nostalgia that just seems to pour out of some of his works.
Two of his most important poems are "Waiting for the Barbarians" (1904) and "Ithaca" (1911). However, for purposes of this post I will be highlighting two additional poems that, like the ones I've already posted -- "Days of 1903" and "I've Looked So Much" -- exemplify the poet's sensual style, usually leaden with nostalgia for youthful encounters or loves found and lost, all of them unmistakably homosexual.
One Night by Konstantinos P. Kavafis
|In the Dull Village by David Hockney|
(1966) etching and aquatint print
Illustrated a selection of poems by
C. P. Cavafy
was the cheapest we could find.
We could see the filthy alley
from the window, hear the shouts
of the workmen at their card-games.
Yet there on that narrow bed
I had love’s body, knew its red lips;
those lips so full, so bloody with desire
that now as I write, after so many years,
in this lonely house... I’m drunk with them again.
The Boat by Konstantinos P. Kavafis
This little pencil sketch –
it’s certainly him.
It was made quickly, one long
on the Ionian. Yes, I’d say
it caught his looks –
though I have him more handsome;
so must the sensualist, you’d say
he was lit up with it... Yes, he looks
so much more handsome,
now my heart calls him
from so long ago. So long.
All these things are very old – the sketch,
and the boat, and the afternoon.
February Reads: 11
Contemporary Romance: 2
Historical Romance: 2
LGBT: 3 (Poetry: 1 Mystery: 1 Historical/Mystery/Romance: 1)
1. He Will Laugh by Douglas Ray: A-
2. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie: B+
3. Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold: B
4. Crimes on Latimer: From the Early Cases of Marco Fontana by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
5. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman: B
6. Matthew (The Circle Eight #1) by Emma Lang: B
7. My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander: B
8. The Master of Seacliff by Max Pierce: B
9. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan: B
10. Hell Yeah by Carolyn Brown
11. How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story by John Scalzi: C
12. Snowbound by Larissa Ione: DNF - Not for me
Reading at the Moment:
|Walking the Clouds:|
An Anthology of Indigenous
In this first-ever anthology of Indigenous science fiction Grace Dillon collects some of the finest examples of the craft with contributions by Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors. The collection includes seminal authors such as Gerald Vizenor, historically important contributions often categorized as "magical realism" by authors like Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie, and authors more recognizable to science fiction fans like William Sanders and Stephen Graham Jones.From the University of Arizona Press, this is a fascinating read so far! It released in March, but I wish I had received this book in February so that I could have read it as part of my participation in the 2012 Science Fiction Experience. I will let you all know how these stories turn out, but I can tell you that so far the introduction alone has me excited. :)
That's it for February, it was a month of poetry and love. Next I will be summarizing my reads and posts for the 2012 Science Fiction Experience. However, please know that my computer at home crashed again! So unless I can somehow repair it this weekend, this will be my last post for a couple of days.
How was your February? Any great reads?