This collection of poetry and prose about Greece reflects the bleak state of present-day Athens and reminds the reader that there is nothing new about Greece’s suffering. Combining present observations with portraits of the Greek musicians and writers, Holst-Warhaft’s book is both a peon of praise for the music and poetry that the author first discovered in the Greece of the 1960’s, and a reminder of how much the country has changed since it returned to democracy in 1974. Having played in the orchestras of such legends as Mikis Theodorakis and Dionysis Savvopoulo, the author had a bird’s eye view of 20th century Greek music as its apogee. Translating Greek poetry and prose later brought her in close contact with some of the leading writers of the period. With the discovery of Greek music and poetry came the forging of lasting friendships with these giants of Greek culture. This eclectic compilation of poetry, prose, translation, memoir, and songs captures the enigmatic, hybrid nature of Greece, a country that has always had the ability to create extraordinary beauty out of suffering.
“Gail Holst-Warhaft, or Elektra, as she is known to her Greek friends, has written a valuable book that bears witness to the joys and sorrows of Greece; it goes deep below the surface of events, down to the currents that shape the place and its people.”
— Nikos Konstandaras, in ekathimerini.com
About the Author
Gail Holst-Warhaft was born in Australia. Besides being a poet she has been a journalist, broadcaster, prose-writer, academic, musician, and translator. In the 1970’s, while researching a book on Greek music, Holst-Warhaft performed as a keyboard-player with Greece’s leading composers, including Minis Theodorakis. Among her many publications are Road to Rembetika (1975, 5th edition 2013), Theodorakis: Myth and Politics in Modern Greek Music (Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1980), Dangerous Voices: Women’s Laments and Greek Literature (Routledge, 1992), The Cue for Passion: Grief and its Political Uses (Harvard, 2000), I Had Three Lives: Selected Poems of Mikis Theodorakis (Livanis, 2005), and Penelope’s Confession (poems, Cosmos, 2007), Losing Paradise: The Water Crisis in the Mediterranean (Ashgate, 2010). She has published translations of Aeschylus, and of a number of modern Greek poets and prose-writers. Her poems and translations of Greek poetry have appeared in journals in the US (Literary Imagination, Bookpress, Seneca Review, Antipodes, Per Contra, Literary Matters), the U.K. (Agenda, Stand), Australia (Southerly), and Greece (Poetry Greece). She was appointed Poet Laureate of Tompkins County for 2011 and 2012.