Sometimes one has the good fortune to meet special individuals. I spent my 5 postdoctoral years in Battery Lane, right across the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland. This morning, I received an anticipated present from my neighbor in the same appartment complex, a Greek poet – known to the literary circles in Latin America also for his translations – Rigas Kappatos.
Rigas works restlessly and publishes books at a rate that never ceases to surprise me. He draws from the Ancient Greek civilization (although he would rather have our heritage informing & educating our modern view, in fact one of his motivations is to bridge the gap); from many Latin American figures of the 20th century, notably the Chilean Pedro Lastra & Mexican Carlos Montemayor (and – I think – Greek poet Nikos Kavadias, who was, like Rigas, a sailor); and from his personal life experiences (as all poets do), including his particular love of cats.
First allow me a comment on the postal service in Mexico. Typically, normal post takes 2 months to arrive from around the world, sometimes it can take longer. I wonder where this envelope was from the 18th of December when it was stamped in Chevy Chase, Maryland; until the 4th of February when it was stamped in Aragón, Mexico City?
But now let us look at the contents within the envelope. 4 books! I had an instant reaction reading the titles of the first 3; I thought immediately of a someone special to whom I would have liked to give them the book. But, of course these books are destined for my library and my own reading first, and then of any interested visitors. Funny, that the 4th title didn’t give a similar impulse. I think the reason is simple: I have a copy of his translations of poems by Victor Hugo, so if I wanted to give it to someone, I probably would be able to do so, the hand-written dedication, notwithstanding! Thus, I couldn’t think of an appropriate person and I can keep the second copy 😉
I haven’t read Ernest Renan before. I am looking forward to his Prayer on the Acropolis. Rigas first heard the poem watching the sunrise from the Acropolis 50 years ago. The French culture is now part of my brother’s family; hence the immediate thought that they would appreciate this book. (They are always welcome to visit 🙂
Hephestus’ secret reminded me of my own very first short story, Orejitas, which is only available in Greek. Without knowing the story, it is hard to convey why I would have liked to give the book to someone very close to the protagonist in that story; whom I met earlier today. Rigas, will understand, but on browsing the book and seeing photos from the Battery Lane appartment, I instantly felt possesive.
Finally, today was a special day for my relationship with Dr. Abraham Rosas-Arellano. Abraham is a close friend, who worked in the past with my wife and then collaborated with me in 2013-2014. Our first paper together was published on this day. Since mid-2014, Abraham is working in Chile*; hence my thought that Chile y Grecia | Amistad en la poesía, un puente de comunicación would have been a perfect present. Or I will have to think of another one… and keep it for Jenny, my native Chilean friend. Until she comes to our home, of course.
So, bottom line, thank you Rigas! Σ’ ευχαριστώ πολύ.