Greek poetry against austerity


This Greek poetry video is called Fragments of Sappho Poetry.

From AFP news agency today:

Award-winning Greek poetry added to anti-austerity arsenal

By Sophie Makris – 3 hours ago

ATHENS — “If you cannot find springtime, you invent it.” Silent until now, Greece’s poets on Wednesday added their voice to protests against austerity measures imposed on the country in return for EU-IMF loans.

Some 1,000 self-styled “children of Homer“, the epic ancient poet, marched in central Athens along the well-trodden path to parliament taken by hundreds of anti-austerity protests before them.

This time, however, the slogans were good enough for a Nobel literature prize.

“This is not just another protest — it’s a different protest,” said poet George Houliaras, one of the organisers of the initiative that rallied support from prominent journals and publishing houses.

The demonstration was timed to coincide with World Poetry Day and also meant “to show a different image of the country, and remind Greeks that the power of culture can help us emerge from the situation we find ourselves in,” Houliaras said.

Alexandros, 17, bore a banner with a verse from Odysseas Elytis, one of Greece’s greatest poets and a Nobel laureate in 1979.

“Greeks have been writing poetry in the same language for 2,000 years, no other country can claim the same,” the serious-faced youth told AFP.

“With words of poetry, we can fight any measures imposed on us.”

Greece is trapped in a five-year recession exacerbated by deep spending cuts adopted to deal with a debt crisis that nearly bankrupted the country in 2010.

The economy was saved with multi-billion loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but at the cost of salary and pension cuts, and a fiscal adjustment set to continue to 2015 and beyond.

Poetic verse helped Greeks endure another harsh period in the country’s history, the seven-year army dictatorship in the late 1960s.

The work of several poets cited in Wednesday’s protest — Odysseas Elytis, Yiannis Ritsos and 1963 Nobel laureate George Seferis — were later set to music by renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, a resistance icon under the junta.

One of the participants, Anna Constantinidou, held aloft verse by 20th century poet Manolis Anagnostakis poignantly fitting to Greece’s current woes.

“I fear those whose nests are besmirched, and who now seek to find dirt in the nests of others,” wrote Anagnostakis, who died in 2005, some four years before the economic crisis hit Greece.

The Greek government has launched a nationwide hunt for tax cheats in order to combat a deeply-entrenched shadow economy but many Greeks feel that the chief culprits are prominent businessmen and politicians who will never be caught.

“After the dictatorship, the appeal of easy wealth made people lose their spirituality,” Constantinidou said.

“Today is the springtime of a new solidarity, new collective action,” she said.

George Manginis, a 40-year-old archaeologist, noted that poetry “has always restored Greece’s pride in difficult times.”

“Make a leap faster than attrition,” wrote Elytis, who died in 1996.

“When you hear the word ‘order’, it smells of human flesh,” another of his verses said.

Several of the demonstrators opted for one of Seferis’ best-known adages: “Wherever I go, Greece hurts me.”

See also here.

Greek women against austerity: here.

The 1 Percent’s Doctrine for the 99 Percent. Mark Ames, Consortium News: “Slavery is often portrayed by revisionist historians as somehow antithetical to market capitalism; in reality, slavery was a winning portfolio investment, the very incarnation of just how evil ‘free-market’ capitalism can be. What makes this graph so disturbing for us in 2012 is what it suggests about today’s ‘1 percent’ – and how they view the rest of us”: here.

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