The celebrated Greek poet Phoebe Giannisi explores connections between language, life, and the natural world
By one of Greece’s foremost contemporary poets, Cicada is Phoebe Giannisi’s second collection in English. The cicada signifies metamorphosis in this breathtaking, lyrical book, which evokes the spirits of Archilochus, Plato, Empedocles, and Heraclitus. As the translator Brian Sneeden remarks: “The ‘I’ in Giannisi’s poetry is never static, never a fixed point, but part of a process of rebodying the ambient.” Yet, despite the fluid, mythic nature of Giannisi’s poems, they are also exquisitely rooted in the everyday: the sea heard through a window, the murmur of a distant mechanical crane, a damp wind, a photo of John and Yoko. Giannisi is a poet internationally known for her idiosyncratic eco-poetics, as well as her poetic multimedia works and performances, and most of all for her brilliant vision glowing at the borders of language, voice, place, and memory.
Brian Sneeden is author of the poetry collection Last City. He is program coordinator of translation studies at the University of Connecticut and is managing and senior editor of World Poetry Books.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Cicada, Phoebe Giannisi’s second collection to appear in English translation, offers a vibrant lyric consideration of metamorphosis, mortality, and poetry as song, all centered around the figure of the shapeshifting insect…A heightened sense of wonder, borne from a recognition of the transitory nature of life itself, pervades this collection.
— Heather Green - Poetry
Giannisi is unquestionably herself within a vanguard of Greek poets for whom self-awareness and honesty have become second nature.
— Shon Arieh-Lerer - World Literature Today
Sneeden is a meticulous translator and a poet in his own right. He brings Phoebe Giannisi’s work to life with immediacy and conviction.
— Edmund Keeley
Giannisi’s work glitters with such fragments: minimal, direct and dense with loss.
— Max Sydney Smith - Review31
Beautifully translated...The book resounds with an "alien voice from the fence of the teeth." Alien, not only because it is the song of the cicadas that is constantly evoked and lurks from underneath the pages..., but even more so because the voice here belongs to all sorts of beings, especially the non-human ones."
— Cristina Pérez Díaz - Asymptote