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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Alexis Lykiard

I have a number of books by Alexis Lykiard, and at present I am closely re-reading his short poetry collection Skeleton Keys, in which he re-assesses his Greek family ties with courageous openness and honesty: "to underline how truth and lies are relative at last: one must try to thread through the labyrinth like some latter-day Theseus, slowly finding a way out of the darkness. And onward- past the elusive dreams and false memories, all those tortuous politics and outworn myths- until the confrontation with what, in the end, was always instinctively guessed from the beginning".

Alexis Lykiard(opoulos) was born in Athens in 1940. He was brought to England at an early age. He won the first Open English Scholarship to King's College, Cambridge at the age of seventeen, and graduated with  First Class Honours in 1962.

"Distinctive and unsparing poems" indeed. Powerful and painful, like 'Survival of the Fascist', about his father:

"What did you do in World War Two, Daddy?" he asks.

"Were you whatever you claimed, Daddy,
Resistance hero or unwilling baddy?...

A wireless lay hidden under me-
unlikely story, one more I was told-
so you could tune in to the BBC.
Held by the Gestapo and then released?
I discount these fairy tales I was fed.

Everywhere famine made do as a feast.
My mother cycled miles to fetch an egg for me.
The poorer Greeks lay frozen in the streets.
Each morning trucks collected up the dead.
Dad, I don't believe a word you said."

Apart from poems about his father and family, the collection contains poems about Theo Stephanides, Sotiria Bellou, Mikis Theodorakis, Contantine Trypanis, Maria Kalogeropoulou, and about the island of Chios.

His poetry.

Poems from Milesian Fables, including the poem "Cavafy", which also appeared in Greek Images

Two book covers:

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