In the fall of 2018, Shoestring Press finally released Shorsha Sullivan’s English translation of the complete trilogy. This past spring, Lyacos went on a US signing tour, culminating with a reading in Los Angeles at Beyond Baroque on May 30. That is where I had the pleasure of meeting him. As we sat on a staircase waiting for the event to begin, an interesting conversation was sparked. The interview that follows was born of that informal exchange, which continued via email
A Dissociated Locus: Dimitris Lyacos Interviewed by Andrew Barrett - BOMB Magazine. The writer of the Poena Damni trilogy on analytic philosophy, polyphonous narrators, and alternate consciousness.
Your name appears on various lists of postmodern literature, among others, in the new edition of Fran Mason’s Historical Dictionary of Postmodernist Literature and Theater. In fact, you are the only Greek author included in a volume spanning more than half a century of postmodernism. In the “Lyacos” entry of the dictionary, your work is classified as late modernist/postmodernist and you are also mentioned in the preface as a postmodernist author ...
Dimitris Lyacos’s cross-genre trilogy Poena Damni is among the most well-received pieces of contemporary European literature. Revised and rewritten over a period of three decades, the trilogy is currently translated into twenty languages with the English Box Set Edition having appeared in 2018, when Lyacos was also mentioned for the Nobel Prize. [...]
In 2019 I interviewed Dimitris Lyacos on the occasion of the US tour/launch of his trilogy, Poena Damni, which had been recently released in the English complete edition. When we met, he had just read for the inmates of a few Arizona prisons. He had also visited for the first time Los Angeles’s “Skid Row,” which reviewers of his work had compared, on occasion, to the setting of his second book, With the People from the Bridge. [...]
Fonti di ispirazione di Dimitris Lyacos: «La Bibbia certo, e l'Antico testamento in particolare per il primo libro, i presocratici, ma ovviamente la filosofia non solo greca, la tragedia greca, Dante». E poi: antropologia, teologia, fisica, poesia, logica... E ancora: «Parlando della mia trilogia, qualche volta ho notato che Z213: Exit è il mio libro ebraico, Con la gente dal ponte quello cristiano e La prima morte il libro greco. Uno potrebbe pensare a Filottete». Del resto, non è strana questa influenza della cultura greca antica, dato che Lyacos è nato ad Atene nel 1966. E non è strano che il protagonista sia un uomo in viaggio, come Ulisse, immerso in una fuga allucinogena fra terre desolate, prigioni, amori inutili, violenza, morti che risorgono, visioni divine [...]
Dimitris Lyacos, poeta greco classe ’66, nel corso di un trentennio di attività letteraria, ha composto il trittico Poena Damni, oggi disponibile in italiano nell’elegante cofanetto edito dal Saggiatore (traduzione di Viviana Sebastio, pagine 328, euro 23). [...]
Your work has been widely characterised as “genre-defying”, “avant-garde” and “postmodern”, engaging with major narratives of the Western Canon and utilising fragmentation. In the epigraph to your third book in your Poena Damni trilogy, The First Death, you quote Hodges: “Nothing in this book is original, except perhaps by mistake”. Can you comment on how this relates to your writing?
Dimitris Lyacos (b. 1966) is a contemporary Greek poet and playwright. He is the author of the Poena Damni trilogy. Renowned for its genre-defying form and the avant-garde combination of themes from literary tradition with elements from ritual, religion, philosophy and anthropology, Lyacos’s work reexamines grand narratives in the context of some of the enduring motifs of the Western Canon. Poena Damni, [...]
It can seem all too rare to come across poetry as ambitious and exciting as that of Dimitris Lyacos. His work exists at the intersection of the classical and the postmodern, the poetic and the dramatic, free verse and form. Exploring relationships with death, resurrection, and memory, to name just a few, Lyacos creates a dystopic epic for the modern world – not a post-apocalyptic adventure, but rather an exploration of a world hauntingly similar to our own. This is poetry that makes you think as well as feel. Poetry as finely layered as mica; each (re)reading an unveiling.
Dimitris Lyacos interviewed by John Taylor in the New Walk Magazine, issue 12, May 2016
Σ. Δόικας: Θα έλεγε κανείς ότι το έργο σου εντάσσεται στο πλαίσιο του μεταμοντέρνου καθώς εμπεριέχει στοιχεία όπως η αποσπασματικότητα, το εφήμερο, η ασυνέχεια, η αποδόμηση της γλώσσας και των κωδικών επικοινωνίας, η κατακερματισμένη αίσθηση ταυτότητας. Αισθάνεσαι ότι ανήκεις στο ευρύτερο πλαίσιο του μεταμοντερνισμού;
Δ. Λυάκος: Για να ξεκινησουμε και λιγο αστειευομενοι, κανονικα δεν πρεπει να απαντησω σε αυτη την ερωτηση, η μαλλον δεν πρεπει να απαντησω κανονικα σε αυτη την ερωτηση. Εν οψει του θανατου του συγγραφεα θα σου ελεγε ο Barthes, ο Λυακος δεν εχει καμια προτεραιοτητα εναντι κανενος αλλου αναγνωστη να ερμηνευσει και να κατηγοριοποιησει το κειμενο. Αν καταλαβαινω καλα, αυτο εννοεις οταν με ρωτας αν ανηκω, προφανως εννοεις αν ανηκει το κειμενο. Το να ανηκα «εγω» στο μεταμοντερνισμο θα σημαινε οτι εργαζομαι συνειδητα με σκοπο τη συγγραφη βιβλιων που θα εμπιπτουν στην κατηγορια του μεταμοντερνου – αυτο φυσικα δεν μπορει να ισχυει, και ουτε χαιρομαι, η λυπαμαι οταν η κριτικη συνδεει η κατηγοριοποιει τα βιβλια μου κατ’ αυτο τον τροπο. Οι κριτικες που διαβαζω διιστανται, καποιοι μιλουν για μεταμοντερνισμο, καποιοι αλλοι για επιστροφη του High Modernism. Ειλικρινα αυτες οι κατηγοριοποιησεις μου θυμιζουν την εμμονη της σκεψης με την αναζητηση ταυτοτητων και ετεροκαθορισμων που περιεγραφε ο Adorno.