Dimitris Lyacos

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Dimitris Lyacos in 2010

Dimitris Lyacos (born October 19, 1966) is a Greek poet and playwright.


  • Say you are invited to dinner, you arrive and the table is set. A succulent piece of steak is served, a little blood oozes out of the tender meat. Has that piece become so alien to its “history” that you would never wonder about its past? If you did, how far back would you go? Certainly as far as the kitchen, that is easy to do, but how about what happened before? The slaughterhouse or, possibly, the gruesome life of the animal? There’s a story behind the little blood that you see, a residue hinting at the end of a life. A trace that has come to reach you, and you might want to follow the thread and think about life as part of a system—the prearranged context surrounding the chair you have sat on and the clean dish in which your dinner was served[1].
  • Since I started with an anecdote, let me continue with one more: There is a Roma friend of mine, Babis, whom I randomly meet around my neighbourhood when I am in Greece. I have him in a passage in Z213: EXIT, so, when I see him around I say that I owe him royalties and invite him for a drink. Last time I saw him he stayed with us in a tavern up to the early hours of the morning, at which point I offered to give him a lift. When, a few minutes later, he got out of the car on a dark nondescript street, he made an on the spot decision about where to go and what to do next. As I now recall his solitary figure in this dark street while driving away, I come to think of Keats’s “burden of the Mystery”. After we get out of the non-thinking room in the huge mansion of life, we reach the splendidly colourful maiden-room of thought which entices us with the discoveries we make there, before we see it darken from the discovery of pain and suffering; and, as we realise that, we see the doors around us opening to dark corridors leading to the unknown. Who dares follow them when nothing is given, abandon planning ahead and open up to whatever may come? We carry with us a backpack of ideas, theories, insecurities and the detailed scenarios we project onto the future. Unlike us, outcasts, fugitives and people in the margins are the ones possessing the negative capability, the power to bear the “burden of the mystery”; immigrants cross seas that might engulf them. Their fear is overcome not only by the hope of a better life but also by their acceptance of those darker alleys, where time and space are created at the moment in which they are experienced. Z213: EXIT is the journey of such a man, whom I don’t know if it is right to call a “character” – in order to call him that, one should know more than what is found in the book and, perhaps, more than I know about him myself. [2].
  • This is continuity, you travel, perhaps in your mind, a paper world real, God reeling up and down landscapes and buildings, knocks down, opens new roads, doesn’t like it, changes again, but there isn’t a seam, His world is onefold, and you perceive neither seam nor contradiction, continuity only.
    • From: Poena Damni Z213: Exit, Shoestring Press, 2010.
  • [...] your own are burning and your memories and you don't want to leave them. Everything will burn to the end, you suffer, but nobody is punishing you, they are just setting your soul free. Don't be afraid because while you fear death they will rend your soul like demons. Only calm down and you will see the angels who are setting you free and then you will be free.
    • From: Poena Damni Z213: Exit, p. 88, Shoestring Press, 2010.
  • And when you can no longer remember, just meaningless things here and there and you can't. But still try even then, as the twilight sets in, stand and look at the past, walk again along the corridors where your eyes used to wander, attentive ghosts, open the boxes, think of the other side of the wall. Sit at the side of the road and see yourself pass. See the web, see how the passages of the maze all lead again to the same point which does not exactly coincide with the exit.
    • From: Poena Damni Z213: Exit, p. 60, Shoestring Press, 2010.
  • [...] a course laid between the seed and the snare

marks of venerable syringes ordered
to excite the awareness of Transcendence
first and last harbour the disinfecting of exile
on the bridge no one, only me,
searching for approaches and testing traitor neurons
grading thoughts repenting in an incomprehensible tongue
and again attempting to show the splash-down of a world
which moves up and down within the walls of experience
a tragedy which travels unruffled
hell without sinners without return [...]

    • From: Poena Damni The First Death, p. 35, Shoestring Press, 2000.

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