Page 1

τέττιξ λιγυρὴν καταχεύετ’ ἀοιδὴν

Credits By Heart Apparatus Design: Iris Lycourioti, Phoebe Giannisi. Made by Sevastiana Konstaki Video EA EKEINA and Environmental Sound: LECAD, University of Thessaly Translations by: Andrew Maxwell, Joseph Mosconi, Konstantinos Matsoukas, Angelos Sakkis Booklet Design: Yorgos Rimenidis Aknowledgements to: Susan Gevirtz, Katerina Iliopoulou 2012

Over the syllable-seed hangs a point and a crescent moon it is resounding, but if you erase the syllable the absolute is all that’s left, silent. upanishad

These word representations are remnants of memory, they were perceptions once and they, like all memory remnants, can become again conscious… and whatever – apart from emotions – from within endeavors to attain to consciousness will need to seek to take the form of an external perception. This becomes possible by means of the memory trace. Verbal remnants derive mainly from sound impressions. ... the word is the mnemonic remnant of the sound of the word. the i and the id / freud

I come here to read to you and speak to you as an embodied voice. Because Derrida – of whom I am fond – has said that poetry is that which comes out of and is uttered from the breast, I am now wearing a par coeur, a by heart apparatus which is no more than a reading device attached to my body. Thus I can speak to you by heart, from the breast, from inside and not from outside. In returning to the recitation of the text, we return to the solitary or communal song. The voice speaking out loud is a form of address. It connects the body of the subject to the others, the world, the entire universe. A nightingale, a cicada, the fly, the rooster, the dog, perform the same function. They address the overflow of the inside to the outside, whether that’s the landscape or the others. I give my voice to the written text, I lend it: writing repossesses its original state of being embodied. The one who recites carries the text in his body repeating the original action of inscription. The body of the reader creates the text’s body of sound. From the position where it is located, the body of sound of the voice comes to meet material objects and their own sounds, those of the universe and the cosmos, those of the weather, the air in the foliage and the sea, as well as all the other, natural or mechanical, sounds of the surrounding actions taking place at this moment. By means of the recitation, the primary process of communication between the poet’s body and the outside is ritualistically enacted: the reception and embodiment of the outside by his corporeal ego. The outside is returned transformed - like an already chewed morsel of food given by the carer to a child or a bird. If the etymology of the word ‘ego’ derives indeed from ‘edo’ (here), then, the ego in its primary meaning signifies the presence in a here, independently of the person. I am none other than the one addressing at this moment from this here place which I occupy with my body. Maybe also: I merely lend my voice to here and it is here that is speaking. From a personal voice to the voice of a place. One can give this meaning to the paragraph of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo where the god’s praises are sung by the peninsulas and the seashores, by the estuaries of the rivers and the mountaintops. The hymn of the human singer is transferred to the place of its utterance and it thus becomes the earth singing in his place. Likewise, the voice of the maidens from Delos knows not the boundaries of language but can imitate the sound of any living creature. The communicative I loses the characteristics of the person in order to embody only one position from now on, the natural position which it occupies. And who is the other, who are you?

What in poetry is background and what is theme? What is narrative poetry and what is lyrical poetry? What part does the self play in lyrical poetry? Can the voices of the poem be many rather than one, as Bakhtin argues? Is the voice of the poem its form? Is form the style of writing or is it perhaps the closed shape of the final work? Is it the tone and the style of the voice or is it its plot? Could it be that plot always creates shapes that are completely closed?

I started out (Black Museum, Sea urchins, Ramazan) writing inside very closed but, also, almost surrealist shapes which conveyed not experience or thinking but only a passion, in the ancient greek sense of the term, that is a personal tribulation that cane out of the pen as a cry. That cry contained a lot of self and at some point for me it was over. I wanted to remain in the I while getting away from it. In order to free myself from the finished shape and to open it up, I started writing while murmuring first the Loops, which were small poems about images, then short monologues “of long breath” – as Allen Ginsberg puts it – which I named Deliria because though they contained thinking, at the same time hovered on the borderline between the rational utterance and the delirious internal monologue.

touch where is the cell-phone did we bring it along you asked and started rummaging through the sack the sack as always filled to the brim cram packed wily nily things piled in the sack one inside the other intertwined with the arm plunged inside the opening you explored the dark sanctum here it is you said I think that’s it though I’m not too sure because I barely touched it I think I touched it you said I think what I touched was what I was looking for and then we went on our way why shouldn’t what you touched be what you’re looking for the thing you touched and didn’t see is always what you are after you need to trust touch as much as sight I said maybe even more so I thought touch smell closer to memory closer to the truth because closer to the body than sight in order to smell in order to touch I need to be close in contact one on top of the other only one on top of the other is the truth

you me you giving me without me asking giving me because you want to give without even knowing you are giving giving me effortlessly when I don’t expect it but also when I do even when I expect without knowing giving knowing about me before I do wanting what I want wanting what I want before I realize I want it or wanting what I want because you are more me than I am wanting together the same or wanting what the other will give us when he gives it giving together before we have time to think or having a desire and it being a joint desire or being ready to receive being ready to receive what we will give or being ready to receive our desire to have desires in the other’s place when you tell me we’ll do this I’m sure you’ll like it and we do it and I like it more than what I had thought I wanted maybe I like it more because you thought of it and not I but you thought of it on my behalf before I did you were me before I was myself because the two together we are something else that goes further than each of our separate I’s a double me a double you

A little later and, then, simultaneously with those, I started writing poems on memory and remembrance, a kind of transcription of the Odyssey, while I was still possessed by the rhythm of the Deliria. By the time of the Homerica collection, I was writing poems which I wanted to be heard even as they are being read in silence. I wanted for the rhythm of the voice to be audible and alongside it, the rhythm of the world, the time of the year, the weather, the animals, the other people at whatever they were doing, the sounds of the city, the sounds of the landscape. This book was also a first attempt for me to work on the specific moment, on voice and on the specific sound-scape, as I recorded readings in situ in a performative tour during a two-day road trip around Mount Pelion.  The sound environment was the “setting” for an embodied voice that reads. I included those recordings in an audio CD which accompanied the printed version of the book. I was interested in space, the weather, the environment insofar as they could be used as a setting for the poem’s text. I am still interested in the time of the day and the hour as conditions of writing and reading, looking at both these as performances, looking at writing and reading as part of the body’s experience and feelings.  In the Homerica, the I is replaced by a mythical I/ person (and the story attaching to its name) who speaks through and at the same time is juxtaposed on one or more, anonymous, contemporary I’s.

homecoming III lightness lightness lightness all of life a nostalgia for lightness lightness of the air in spring under the trees one noon words are hovering the sun shadows light lightness of summer mornings lightness in battle when the limbs of Achilles the limbs of the heroes rise of their own accord as if god put wings there where forcefulness is not needed there where there is an excess of forcefulness forcefulness does not spring out of the will forcefulness grows effortlessly inside the body when the breath of the self is the breath of the weather surrounding the body the hand drags in the water the boat is bringing it is itself brought along by another force whether of the engine or the wind lightness the buzzing of the fly of the insect tirelessly scampering ascending descending walking weightless like a caress lightness of the air in spring neither cool not warm the body spreads and receives it nothing annoys only joy at its touch at its unreserved embrace an embrace with no intention no goal nostalgia lightness nostalgia of Paradise we say Paradise is then when all seasons were spring the air had that temperature there was no gravity you ‘ve no need to fly

so long as you think you are outside as if you are inside that the body moves of its own there is no effort it is relaxed stretched long it is upright in repose the eyes look and see they take pleasure in what they see they listen to what they see they sniff the air the air enfolds it smells of grass sea cicadas are heard sometimes the air may be a little warm and because it is warm it may be a little dense that is a little light the soul stretches it remembers not it is inside itself inside its body I start to walk and I am flying I am a bird without flying uphill is downhill the car is speeding from the windows enters the outside I turn my gaze and see two sparrows I turn my gaze again the sparrows have flown away I do not know how all this exists the birds in the sky I know it without seeing them when I see them they are no longer there I was there too I want to be there again a breath for a small gift a small now that does not last it will stay it will go it will be forgotten

prize or patroclus I respect and honor are what humans desire most of all for what they are and what they deserve I deserve honor and I will not beg for it said achilles to agamemnon when he took away his prize his gift of honor and to odysseus he also said he may have power but I am the best of the achaeans don’t let him think I’ll bow my head and that’s what achilles said the first the only time the king took his honor away and death so heavy was the toll I have already endured several insults public honor for a mistress is not appropriate you said I’m doing you a favor listen now a whole afternoon today I was waiting for you and I patroclus am speaking to you now and saying you are merciless Thetis cannot be your mother the sea and the rocks gave birth to you

achilles so come eat a cuttlefish at our table but afterwards I want you to fuck me the way I deserve it

The Homerica were also the way for me to begin to delve anew in ancient greek and contemporary poetry and poetics, at first using poetic speech, then through the poetic treatise and, eventually, mixing all these genres together with sound, something you can see now on video in the performance ΕΑ ΕΚΕIΝΑ. A major part of my recent and current poetic investigation is to compose poem-treatises on poetry –followed by an in-situ performance in chosen, non-institutional spaces–.

Finally, my most recent collection (T-Ωρα, Τ-Ωρα) is a work on the moment, the ephemeral, the present. It has to do with time, with the exact moment of the enunciation, including the weather and seasonal conditions, of Presence and the Body Now. The word ‘ΩΡΑ’ in ancient greek means the appropriate time and, so, ‘ΩΡΑΙΟΣ’ (whose modern meaning is “beautiful”) is the one who “belongs to the right time”. I took these meanings regarding time literally, and have tried to collect a series of poems written under concrete conditions of time and place, as recorded note-thoughts. Because the way I order the poems is relative to the exact day/place of the year when I wrote them, the collection is like a diary, a record that is a reminder of the season, the weather, the body and other conditions, and a reflection on the passing of time. window (summer) from the window giving to open space a boat engine a sound from the side of the mountain brings the sea inside the room the way warmth on the sheets brings a body that’s absent for some time.

zeno’s paradox II (winter) the sea pulls the large ship hither and hither I see the prow shaking away the smoke today is a grey day and at the front parallel to me the speedboat passes quickly to wait for the quick young boat–the red dolphin: so that’s why that large and powerful and older boat stopped letting the smoke out of its funnels to take a look at the hubbub of nature the waves foaming and surging and the tree branches shaking suddenly we’re still quite independently from any planning– we’ve grown up we focus our eyes to those younger than us and more delectable running in hastiness with speed unchecked until they too approach our own almost immovable position.

I am interested in primary matter in what is outside form what is heard-written I am interested not in the doing but the desire within the doing not the action but the action on-the-way the action towards togetherness the being moved I am interested in space before it is structured in space that is being structured by the event and by existence I am interested in performativity as experience in corporeality in the senses the whole being saying some thing in bricolage and not the plan the practice of saying from the body with no ending no purpose a murmured meditation hovering between subtraction and addition in the world the voice in the weather voices in the world in thought about experience bodily experienced thought which sings to no purpose oscillating with no hierarchy in the monologue of a voice in dialogue with another and another which speak with it in a soliloquy of many voices not above or below but one inside the other one emerging from the other balancing inner and outer communication in between the text the voice the thought the space the sound the treatise the presence.

Phoebe Giannisi Born in Athens. Poet. Architect (NTU Athens). PhD on Archaic Greek PoeticsPoetry and Architecture (Universite Lyon II- Lumiere). In 2010 co-curator for the Greek Pavilion of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition (La Biennale di Venezia) ( Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Thessaly, Greece. Lives in Volos, Greece. theory books:

Classical Greek Architecture: The invention of the modernity (2004) Recits des Voies. Chant et Cheminement en Grece Archaique (2006).

chap books:

Sea Urchins (1995) Ramazan (1997)


Loops (2005) Homerica (2009)

unpublished / works in progress:

Regarding the body the weather the landscape in poetry Deliria Τ-ώρα Τ-ώρα Archilochea Empedocleia and Platonica

Phoebe Giannisi "cicada's voice: tettix liguren katacheuet' aoiden"  

Poetry chapbook distributed on the occasion of a reading (march 10, 2012) in San Francisco (at Susan Gevirtz's) and a reading (march 11, 201...

Phoebe Giannisi "cicada's voice: tettix liguren katacheuet' aoiden"  

Poetry chapbook distributed on the occasion of a reading (march 10, 2012) in San Francisco (at Susan Gevirtz's) and a reading (march 11, 201...