Opera Bufa

poetry by Manolis


If language is the primal experience of mankind, then absurdity is the tease that always surprises us as a glittering determinant of meaning. In his new book, Opera Bufa, Manolis uses the poetic logic of the absurd as a literary device to entice us into multilayered images that flame through the margins of his thoughts. On the one hand it is quite possible to misinterpret the swirls of absurdity as an encroaching cruel intelligence, or paradoxical nonsense or even the desultory whim of one's conscience point of view–and that would indeed be true if absurdity were constellated as a disorder and had no obvious attachment other than its sound. But on the other hand, when absurdity is used in congruence with evaluations and appraisal that spark insight, then something extraordinary happens; meaning is highlighted and enshrined in the stylistic spectrum that examines its bridal bed.– The craning of the head, the choke and wheeze of life that is our burden, the mirror's eyes give form and weight to our inertia, they all merge and gallop like apostrophes back towards the solitary cry of the human spirit, swirling and transformed every time Manolis picks up his pen. With Fellini-like attention to detail and fascination, he frames existence not as a blind truth or an algorithm but as a variant that localizes the appearance of things, like the powerful warp of ambivalence life inspires. Can we do better? Is it possible to serve love in a more authentic manner? For Manolis, I think the implication in this collection is a resounding yes... and it seems to rise out of the layered shadows below endless olive groves like a divine sigh. I invite those who love poetry to step into his interior life, leave behind their own translations of what it means to be human, and to observe a master poet at work.

– Ilya Tourtidis


First Canto
The genesis of tragedy is
sharp like the crisp watermelon 
its black spots amid a red cosmos
I dig with my fingers trying to
unravel the meaning of my thirst
some fiery July noon or a cuke
picked from its mother's arm 
at dawn when one wakes
to go to church or the pious 
execution of an allopistos saint
benevolence or benediction 
swirling a winding path that forgets your name
though remembers the taste of your soles 
on gravel  rebelling when the
undulating shadow of your voice 
gnaws the chirp of chickadees
the murmur of its echo becomes
a miracle and bubbles from the depths
of sacred empyrean music
your devotion bell pealing
for a recently departed 
osprey and its grace  diving into
clear shallows where an unnoticed loon 
cries away his departure and
a last ray filters its glimmer through 
the lonely cloud  mesmerizing
a moment of silence
trapping my perceptions
to ask the most peculiar
question  my emotions
that guard cemetery gates
affirming with salutes
and shouting: we can do better
"From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all. It is not the world that is absurd, nor human thought but when the human need to understand meets the unreasonableness of the world like when my appetite for the absolute and for unity meets the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle."
– Albert Camus,
The Myth of Sisyphus

About the Author

Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Masters for the Arts in Literature. He is recognized for his ability to convey images and thoughts in a rich and evocative way that tugs at something deep within the reader. Born in the village of Kolibari on the island of Crete in 1947, he moved with his family at a young age to Thessaloniki and then to Athens, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from the Panteion University of Athens. After graduation, he served in the armed forces for two years and emigrated to Vancouver in 1973, where he worked as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker, and studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. His translation book George Seferis-Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece.

More on Manolis Aligizakis


"Sex. Death. God. In a poetic celebration of the absurd, we travel through lands of juniper and hibiscus, olive grove and partridge. We're swept along by a fast-moving stream of creation hoping to make sense of it all, until we realize that's exactly the point. Opera Bufa doesn't aim to make sense. Manolis writes like a Greek Jack Kerouac, taking us on the road with Sisyphus and Odysseus, displaying a hot-blooded irreverence for rhyme or reason, and a love for the lush power of words. "

– Angela Long
author of Observations from Off the Grid

"Manolis, publisher and poet, has created a mock epic of oceanic dimensions. Absurd, insightful, comic and profound the poems of Opera Bufa combine eroticism and spirituality, responsibility and the acknowledgement of the human condition, as if Aristophanes and Seferis sat down to collaborate on a grand work together. The deep ground of Manolis' poetry is an ancient music that is the source of all great poetry, and within the context of these poems the shade of Anacreon and Neruda is ever present. Opera Bufa is incandescent flashing sparks of poetic energy that linger long after the book is put down, a deepening resonance. The narrative thread of the poems offers us compassion and ecstatic wonder, alert to the injustice of the world. The bawdy and the sublime are infused with limitless desire bursting out of the quotidian world of politics and the commonplace. At the core of these poems lies the problem of evil and the injustice of mankind to his own kind, in passionate poems where realism shines with mystery and imaginative light. Combining a baroque sensibility with a flair for surrealism, Opera Bufa is a transcendent and illuminous work, as the poems rise from the beginning to a great crescendo in an operatic chorus. A delight to read, these poems, filled with rage and passionate desire, offer an unforgettable experience and a major contribution to our literature. "

– Richard Olafson
author of Cloud on my Tongue