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Austerity Measures


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These are poems concerned with the personal and the political; with the small pleasures of the suburban garden and the viciousness of streetfights; with bodies, love, myth, migration and economic crisis. Together, they form a unique window onto the lived experience of Greek society now.

About the Author

Karen Van Dyck teaches in the Classics Department at Columbia University and writes on Modern Greek and Greek Diaspora literature. Her edited and co-edited translation collections include A Century of Greek Poetry (Cosmos, 2004), Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke's Selected Poems (Graywolf, 2009), and The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present (Norton, 2010).


Austerity is a self-defeating economic policy which has taken an ugly toll in Greece. The silver lining is that, along with the mass unemployment and the rise of Nazism that it engendered, austerity also occasioned a cultural renaissance. This volume of multilingual poetry is a splendid example: living proof that the Greek crisis is of global significance. It deserves aninternational audience. Now! -- Yanis Varoufakis
"Wherever I go, Greece wounds me," said George Seferis, the Nobel prize-winning poet born in 1900. There have been wonderful generations of Greek poets since his day. Ancient Greek poems, the Classics, are the basis of Western poetry. For Anglophone readers, they need re-voicing in every generation: brilliant English versions of Homer, from James Joyce to Derek Walcott and Alice Oswald, help us re-hear them. Today's Greek poets, however, have a special relationship, of a peculiarly charged and conflicted intimacy, with these founding texts. The light these poets work in, and the language they speak, are still the light and the language of Homer and the great tragedians. Austerity Measures, appearing as Greece faces new difficulties and suffering, offers a newly poignant, imaginative and resonant body of work. The wonderfully inventive translations reveal a different Greece to English readers: one that does not cancel the past but builds upon it -- Ruth Padel
One of the few benefits of turbulent historical moments is that they tend to give rise to a new cultural efflorescence. Nowhere is this more obvious than in this fascinating anthology, which gathers together a remarkably rich, resourceful range of poetic idioms in response to a common sense of moral and political emergency -- Terry Eagleton
Karen Van Dyck has collected an extraordinary group of poets and translators who are bound to put Greek poetry on the map again. I've seen it happen twice in my life: with the Generation of the Thirties that included Cavafy, Seferis, Elytes and Ritsos, and that reached world recognition; and again, during the Dictatorship of the Colonels, when the group that appeared in the Harvard anthology Eighteen Texts (1972) and others living under censorship earned international recognition with the help of accomplished translators. Now, during another crisis in the country, we find exciting new voices emerging, and I am convinced that they are once again saying something no one else is saying. Call it the knowledge that emerges from the underside of devastation and the creative illumination that comes with tragedy, but something is going on in Greece that we aren't seeing in the news. I give this anthology my strongest support -- Edmund Keeley
Karen Van Dyck's Austerity Measures is a timely trove of new Greek voices that reverberates with urgency and authority, girded with hard-earned truth and a deep seeing necessary for our twenty-first century. Here's a language that goes for the gut and the heart, an earthy sonority. It holds us accountable for what we witness and feel in a time of globalism. This marvellous compendium of lived imagery speaks freely -- Yusef Komunyakaa

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