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May 16, 2013

As I wander through this seedy coast city I sometimes imagine it as Alexandria — not in ancient times, but early 20th century, as I’ve read about it in novels, as I think of the poet C.P. Cavafy wandering lonely in its streets.

The other day I found, purely by chance, a copy of a book of poems by Ghassan Zaqtan (translations by Fady Joudah).  This book looks so much like the book of poetry that I want to always wander along the docks with & sit in the coffee house with this book in my hand so folks (sorry asses that they are here) will look up & say, “there goes a poet.”

I was pleased to see Zaqtan referenced C.P. Cavafy in 2 of his poems, one titled “Cavafy’s Builders,” the other a long poem titled “Alone and the River before Me” with the lines

If only he did not stand a bit crooked from the world, as happened with Cavafy
whose poetry he did not concern himself with as he did with other poets

The “old poet of the City” (as Lawrence Durrell categorized him in his novels about Alexandria) lives on in his own work, in the work of others, in the imagination of characters like me in an imaginary Alexandria on the other side of the Earth.  Now to write a poem worthy of that memory.


From → Poets, Ponderings

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