Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: ROYAL PEACOCK by Veroniki Dalakoura, translated by John Taylor

Here is what happened the other day: I was staggering down awful stairs, my weight had doubled. My fellow citizens, indifferent to the drama that was taking place before their eyes in plain daylight, which make my dilemma all the more tragic, led me to the sea.
Go into the water, royal peacock—could be heard from everywhere—and delight in the departure of the cranes. As the symbol of a wretched species becoming extinct, I waded into the water and then swam to the coast. I enjoyed the anxiety of everyone who was applauding. I shook my feathers and, giving out a terrible yelping, managed to be heard by the bastards on the other shore.

By Veroniki Dalakoura

Translated by John Taylor

Poem from Veroniki Dalakoura’s Bird Shadows. Selected Poetry and Poetic Prose 1967-2020, Dialogos, 2024.

Born in Athens in 1952, Veroniki Dalakoura is considered one of the leading poets of her generation. Her writing shows the influence of surrealism and her books often combine verse poems, prose poems, hybrid forms, and longer narratives in provocative ways. Besides the volumes of poetry from which this selection has been made, she is also the author of prose works: The End-Game (Nefeli, 1988), Hodler’s Painting (Agra, 2001), and One Afternoon, the Fog (Koukkida, 2018). Holder’s Painting and 26 Poems were finalists respectively for the National Prize in Prose and the National Prize in Poetry. Dalakoura is active as a literary critic, reviewing books in the leading Greek newspapers and journals, and has translated Spanish, English-language, and especially classic French writers and poets into Greek: Rimbaud, Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Baudelaire, Desnos. Her educational background is in law (University of Athens), history, and geography, specifically as it concerns Greek refugees from the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. In 1984, she wrote her doctoral thesis at the University of Montpellier. She continues to do research in this latter field. John Taylor’s essay about Dalakoura, “Eros and Other Spiritual Adventures,” is included in his book Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction Publishers, 2008). Dalakoura lives in Athens.

John Taylor was born in Des Moines in 1952. He has lived in France since 1977. As a translator from three languages (French, Italian, Greek) and as a critic who has written books of essays about contemporary poets from all the European countries, he has long been one of the bridges between European literature and English-speaking countries. In 2020, Cycladic Press published his memoir about working with Elias Petropoulos in Paris: Harsh out of Tenderness: The Greek Poet and Urban Folklorist Elias Petropoulos. In 2023, the same press issued his translation of Petropoulos’s Mirror for You: Collected Poems (1967-1999). Taylor has also translated the short stories of Elias Papadimitrakopoulos and the poetic prose of Manolis Xexakis. Alongside his versions of Greek authors, he is a noted translator of key French, Swiss, and Italian poets, including Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Dupin, Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Louis Calaferte, Georges Perros, Catherine Colomb, José-Flore Tappy, Pierre Voélin, Lorenzo Calogero, Alfredo de Palchi, and Franca Mancinelli. He is the author of several volumes of short prose and poetry, most recently Remembrance of Water & Twenty-Five Trees (The Bitter Oleander Press), illustrated by the French artist Caroline François-Rubino, a “double book” co-authored with the Swiss poet Pierre Chappuis, A Notebook of Clouds & A Notebook of Ridges (The Fortnightly Review Press), and Transizioni (LYRIKS Editore), issued bilingually in Italy and illustrated by the Greek artist Alekos Fassianos.

Photo by Lisa Kalloo

Check out the Poetry Travels book list on bookshop.org.

Read previous poems in the Poetry Travels series:

SNAKE DEATHS by Monika Herceg, translated by Marina Veverec

ON THE WAY TO THE SHOP by Marija Dejanović, translated by Vesna Maric

*** (MY LOVE, YOU SAID YOU WERE A WOLF) by Ruzanna Voskanyan, translated by Nieri Avanessian

RED ZONE by Iryna Tsilyk, translated by Vitaly Chernetsky

THE SPIDER by Danae Sioziou, translated by Panagiotis Kechagias and Mania Meziti

UNTITLED by Johanna Venho, translated by Anselm Hollo

THE KNOWLEDGE OF EVERYTHING by Eleni Cay, translated by the Author

ALIBI by Ewa Brzoza Birk, translated by Anna Blasiak

PATIENCE by Ziba Kirbassi, translated by Stephen Watts

HARLEQUIN by Arjola Zadrima, translated by Vlora Konushevci

SIRENS by Victoria Amelina, translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

JOB: A WOMAN by Dominika Lewicka-Klucznik, translated by Anna Blasiak

BAGS by Blerina Rogova Gaxha, translated by Vlora Konushevci

TONGUEFISH by Yolanda Castaño, translated by Keith Payne

WHAT DO YOU NEED by Friederike Mayröcker, translated by Christina Daub

A WORK OF BIOGRAPHY by Max Jacob, translated by Ian Seed

UNTITLED POEM by Ivano Fermini, translated by Ian Seed


LIGHT by Vasyl Makhno, translated by Olena Jennings

A MESSAGE FROM THE ISLE OF WIGHT by Wioletta Greg, translated by Maria Jastrzębska and Anna Blasiak

HOME by Nataša Sardžoska, translated by the Author

ONLY THE BEGINNING COUNTS (4) by Jan Baeke, translated by Antoinette Fawcett

*** (RABID WINDS) by Gerður Kristný, translated by Rory McTurk

ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS by Vainius Bakas, translated by Kerry Shawn Keys

AGGRESSOR’S MONOLOGUE by Artūras Valionis, translated by Jura Avizienis

THAT’S ALL by Jurgita Jasponytė, translated by Jura Avizienis

UNTITLED by Linas Umbrasas, translated by Audra Skukauskaitė

FIRST SPRING OF THE WAR by Vytautas Kaziela, translated by Jura Avizienis

A LETTER TO A CHILD by Lina Buidavičiutė, translated by Ada Valaitis

UNTITLED by Aneta Kamińska, translated by Anna Blasiak

TWO LYRICS OF LOVE AND MEMORY by Lina Kostenko, translated by Stephen Komarnyckyj

CROW STUDY by Yuri Andrukhovych, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Ludmila Khersonsky, translated by Maya Chhabra

UNTITLED POEM by Iryna Vikyrchak

From THE ANDROMEDA NEBULA by Anna Gréki, translated by Souheila Haïmiche and Cristina Viti

TEAPOT by Nurduran Duman, translated by Andrew Wessels

IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author

INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak

REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer

*** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will

THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

Category: TranslationsPoetry TravelsBlogs


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *