Katerína Angeláki-Rooke was born in Athens in 1939. She studied foreign languages in Athens, France and Switzerland, and concluded her studies with a diploma in translation and interpretation for English, French and Russian. Angeláki-Rooke emerged as a forerunner to the second generation of post-war poets (the so-called ´sceptical generation´). She iconoclastically addressed familiar mythological subjects and symbols, questioning their conventional content.
Following her works in the 60s – ´Liki kai sinnefa´ (1963 t: Wolves and Clouds), ´Piimata 63-69´ (1971 t: Poems 63-69) – her poetry began to focus on what would later become the defining theme of her very personal material: the description of the physicality of feeling. Limbs, organs and features of the body become lexical and sensual sounding boards for the poet’s consciousness. The world with which this consciousness engages in dialogue is a cold, wintery landscape that – far from being sombre – leads to a comprehension of solitude as being peaceful and dignified. Loneliness is understood rather as a more profound, ontological state of existence.
This stance, unusual in Greek poetry, is expressed in the collections ´Magdalini, to megalo thilastiko´ (1974 t: Magdalena, the Large Mammal) and ´Ta skorpia chartia tis Pinelopis´ (1977 t: Penelope’s Scattered Papers) and above all in ´O thriamvos tis statheris apolias´ (1978 t: The Triumph of Continual Loss), ´Enantios erotas´ (1982 t: Adverse Love) and ´I mnistires´ (1984 t: The Prostitute’s Client). In Angeláki-Rooke’s more recent works ´Epilogos aeras´ (1990 t: Epilogue Wind), ´Lipiu´ (1995 t: Land of Mourning) and ´Orea erimos i sarka´ (1996 t: Beautiful Wasteland, Flesh), greater emphasis is laid on the narrative element. There are direct autobiographical references. The tone is new and the voice seems to be conducting a muted dialogue with death.
Poems by Katerína Angeláki-Rooke have been translated into more than 10 languages. A few poems have appeared in German translation in the anthologies ´Und ich, die nur wollte, ich´ (1992 t: And I, Who Only Wanted, I) and ´Unter dem Gewicht der Wörter´ (1999 t: Under the Weight of Words). She has translated a number of works herself, both prose and poetry, from English, French and Russian into Greek. The poet lives in Athens.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)