Yannis Ritsos, Repetitions, Testimonies, Parentheses (Princeton, 1991)
[originally posted 12Mar2001]
Yannis Ritsos, one of the true elder statesmen of Greek poetry, never truly left adolescence (despite being over eighty at his death); he mixes ancient Greek myth and a kind of blissfully revelatory scurrilousness into a poetic soup that’s alternately amusing and annoying. When he’s on, his work resounds; when he’s not, it has the feel of a horny thirteen-year-old typing with one hand. Odd, since one doesn’t usually think of there being a fine line between the two.
While there are pieces scattered throughout this one that make it worthwhile, many of those were also printed in the superior volume Exile and Return; this is probably better off in the collection of Ritsos completists. **