A REGISTRAR OF THE ABYSS
I first met Ilias Foukis quite by accident. We reside in the same neighborhood, and we often take a walk in the same park, watching the children play football in the church forecourt. My dog was the first reason for our first contact, and the subsequent exchange of pleasantries, but it was Foukis who got the ball rolling, as it were. After to or three meetings like this, has asked me to have a look at his manuscripts, which he would leave with the concierge, an extremely affable Greek and, as I was to later learn, with whom Foukis exchanged heartfelt sentiments, as both of them had grown up and been educated in Northern Epirus.
Reading Foukis poems left me speechless. I was, I must confess, unprepared for such poetry. This young man, a frank, high-spirited person, responded to the wear and tear of daily life, through a poetic personality of unexpected philosophical depth marked by an equally profound despair. I was unable to determine which was his true face and which the mask. His origins, as I have learned from my conversations with his compatriots, which include scholars, scientists, but workers as well, justifies this mistrust, this guardedness, and above all else in regard to those institutions, values and ideas which had collapsed there, which had once been used as banners proclaiming humanity`s liberty but later developed into bonds.
What was truly surprising in this sophisticated poetry is the deep communication therein evinced with two of the inexhaustible sources of poetic symbols and motifs, the Bible and Ancient Greek Mythology, religion and poetry.
Foukis poetry is not easy by any means, it is not something to be consumed, does not operate on an emotional level. It is, par excellence, intellectual and contemplative. While one feels that its nucleus is experimental and philosophical, that the trigger for the inspiration are ideas and not words or sounds, a verse shoots forth, not strictly definable in itself, consisting of a surrealistic image combined with an unique metaphysical yoking of meanings which subvert the logical progression and suggest a change of course which, however, leads to a chaotic abyss.
No one can simply pass by this poetry with indifference, or after reading it remain innocent. It transmits to you its turmoil, its anguish, or, if you prefer, its anxiety about existence, the perishable, history regarded as fait accompli, the collapse of values and the vanity of all desires, hopes and theories.
It would be a shame if this poetry, which elevates all that is of essence so we may feast our eyes upon it, existing as it does in a poetic dimension of Nominalism, while longing to humbly be considered with the likes of Novalis, Blake, Claudel, Caducci, Slovatski and Papatsonis, wasn`t taken seriously, judged rigorously but honestly.
In our difficult times whoever attempts to balance on a poetic rope, without a safety net, above the void, provides a poignant answer to Hlderlin`s question regarding poets in wretched times needing to narrate precisely the wretchedness of those times.