Austerity Measures

The final University seminar of the year, to be held at the Heyman Center, Columbia University, on April 20 at 6.00 – 8:00 pm to launch the anthology Austerity Measures (Penguin, 2016). There will be a multi-media performance of Greek poetry and much discussion of the relation between art and politics in hard times. The poets and translators Phoebe Giannisi, Jazra Khaleed, Peter Constantine, and Karen Van Dyck will read works in Greek and in English translation and Edwin Frank (NYRB) will respond. The event is complemented by an exhibition of recent Greek zines curated by Dimitris Antoniou and Karla Neilsen. Biographies and a description of the collection below.

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Biographies and Exhibit
In the 1980s Phoebe Giannisi and some other artists created the fanzine Mavro Mouseio (Black Museum). Although she went on to publish her poetry in established venues like Poetics, her work continues to be featured in alternative magazines, Farmakon among them. Her poetry reflects a visual and classical background, gained through studies in Architecture in Athens and later a Ph.D. in Classics in Lyon. She was a member of Urban Void, a group of architects and artists who organized and performed on issues of ecology and urban landscape. Her audiovisual poetry installation Tettix showed at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012. Giannisi has translated Ancient lyric poetry and work by Hélène Cixous, Gerhard Falkner, Andrew Maxwell, and others. She teaches at the University of Thessaly in Volos. Her poetry includes: Αχινοί (Sea Urchins), Mavro Mouseio, 1995; Ραμαζάνι (Ramadan), Mavro Mouseio, 1997; Θηλιές (Loops), Nefeli, 2005; Ομηρικά (Homerica), Kedros, 2009; Τέττιξ (Tettix), Gavrielides, 2012. Read more about her work here.

The engaged politics and, in the original Greek, the rhyme schemes of Jazra Khaleed’s poetry owe much to the antifascist rap scene in Greece. His works are protests against the injustices in contemporary Greece, especially the growing racism; his poetry and performances have been described by the international press as ‘possessing the kind of energy that pervades the riots on the streets of Athens’. The film rendition of his poem about the refugee situation, ‘The AEGEAN or the Anus of Death’, won prizes at the Paris Festival for Different and Experimental Cinema and the Balkans Beyond Borders Short Film Festival. His poems have been widely translated for publications in Europe, the US, and Japan. As a founding co-editor of Teflon, and particularly through his own translations published there, he has introduced the works of Amiri Baraka, Keston Sutherland, and many other political and experimental poets to a Greek readership. He also writes on topics as varied as Aborigines and hip hop. He lives in Exarchia, the inner-city Athens neighborhood most associated with protests and police violence. Click here for his poetry blog.

Peter Constantine has introduced a new generation of Greek online poets to American readers in publications such as Words Without Borders and World Literature Today. He tends to choose poems with broad appeal over those with specialized historical or literary allusions. He is a co-editor of The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present and A Century of Greek Poetry:1900–2000. His translations from Arvantika, a Greek minority language, have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation. A Guggenheim Fellow, he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize, the National Translation Award (USA), and the Koret Jewish Literature Award. Besides his translations from Greek he has also translated works by Babel, Chekhov, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Tolstoy, and Voltaire.

Karen Van Dyck has translated the work of the Generation of the 1970s, most notably Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Rhea Galanaki, Maria Laina, and Jenny Mastoraki, and collaborated with Eleni Sikelianos on translations of the multilingual nineteenth century poet Dionysis Solomos. Her translations devise formal experiments that construct connections between the Greek texts and poetry in English. Her edited and co-edited translations include The Rehearsal of Misunderstanding: Three Collections by Contemporary Greek Women Poets, A Century of Greek Poetry, The Scattered Papers of Penelope: New and Selected Poems by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present and, most recently, Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry. Read more here.

Edwin Frank was born in Boulder, Colorado and educated at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He is the author of Snake Train: Poems 1984-2013 and the founding and present editor of the New York Review Classics series with its ground-breaking translations of new and out-of-print works including Anne Carson’s Grief Lessons and Erich Auerbach’s Dante: Poet of the Secular World and The Cretan by George Psychoundakis. Read his recent interview where he discusses his greatest literary rediscoveries, the history of the Classics series, and the success of John Williams’s Stoner and Magda Szabó’s The Door, among other topics, with Susannah Hunnewell on The Paris Review’s blog here.

Dimitris Antoniou is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Program in Hellenic Studies at Columbia and curator of the Greek zines collection. His teaching and research draw on approaches in Modern Greek studies, anthropology, and history in order to examine the political and historical dimensions of immateriality. In particular, Dimitris takes unrealized government initiatives and especially failed architectural projects as vantage points to consider state operation and the making of public history. He has recently completed an ethnography of an unbuilt mosque in the suburbs of Athens and is currently collaborating with architects and artists on research that explores the story of a phantasmatic cathedral in 1970s Greece.

Karla Nielson is curator of literature in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. Her research and teaching focus on the interrelation of literary form and material format. In the past Karla worked for small press and academic publishers at the California Digital Library and in special collections libraries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and the Prelinger Library in San Francisco.

Zines of the Greek Crisis – The exhibition complementing Austerity Measures celebrates the beginning of a new collection in Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library entitled “Zines of the Greek Crisis,” which was established by the Program in Hellenic Studies in 2016. The exhibition primarily features artistic, literary, and political zines acquired from small bookstores and record shops in Athens and Thessaloniki over the last three years. These materials–some published by zine veterans, others by graffiti crews or anti-capitalist collectives–convey a strong wish to destabilize mainstream crisis narratives and engage Greece’s current predicament through poetry, surrealist stories, queer theory, and a return to the fundamentals of anarchism. Beautifully designed and presented in unconventional forms, these zines of the Greek crisis, are unique publications, strategically marginal, and the clear products of a realization that the near future wont look anything like the recent past.


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