in the chambers to let the light in
because the walls
are not white ” —Maria Stamati
In this poem by Maria Stamatis, the quintessence of the entire poetry collection is succinctly captured because it can be synonymously reached in everything the poet wants to say and communicate. As an integral part of an experienced place, the walls cannot be whitewashed and the experienced place cannot be untouched, unblemished or even immaculate. It doesn’t matter, whether the walls are beautifully painted and elaborately decorated or cracked and plastered. In any case, they are part of the space we move through, in which we live our life, inevitably in all its manifestations.
These manifestations run through the “multifaceted” themes of the collection. The poetic voice begins a personal and collective introspection by penetrating into subjects both well and badly textual and established. The reflections are mainly concerned with attitudes and ways of living and thinking; attitudes that have founded a reality, or at least a particular narrative of it. It is the quality of these foundations that concerns Maria Stamati. She radiographs human relationships and their degree of clarity, she searches for freedom or liberation, she identifies and, in a gentle but penetrating tone, she denounces habit, alienation, uselessness, boredom, emptiness, without, however, ever forgetting the reference to optimism, authenticity, hope.
Key to reading the collection is the lack of passivity in even the sharpest poems, those that at first reading might be described as pessimistic. No matter how much some form of quagmire is confessed in the poem, the speaking person is never left idle at the mercy of circumstances. The poems, often essayistic in character, manage to calmly arrive at the realization of aspects of reality that are difficult to detect and even more difficult, perhaps even painful, to confess. The absence of lyricism signals that what threatens one’s happiness, though painful, is dealt with soberly and often with subtle but caustic irony, while the staccato style leaves no room for sentimentality. Every realization in no way implies in Maria Stamati’s poetry resignation or defeatism. On the contrary, though harsh, open and unpretentious expression seems to be the most important and courageous demand. It demands clarity and clarity of vision, it demands that man sees reality “unblinkingly”, without excuses and evasions because, otherwise, “what is set aside” becomes “a graph on the ceiling” of his.
The awareness of reality, however, does not become a sterile acceptance in Maria Stamati’s poems. Awareness of situations becomes a first form of redemption from the shackles of ignorance. The poetic voice declares that the exit from the vortex cannot be found while we are “whirling” in its “distortion”. Yet here, the vortex has been identified, it has been studied, its nature and speed are known, therefore the exit from it becomes more likely. The confession of wrongs makes effort a conscious rather than merely a deferred possibility, excuse a rash version rather than a panacea, hope a goal rather than a pipe dream.
In a collection that once again intertwines the poetic with her visual identity, this time in an unbroken unity, Maria Stamati offers the reader material that raises reflections necessary for his inner balance and, by extension, for his balance with the surrounding world. Without being afraid of words and the conceptual load they carry, Maria Stamati gives us a dynamic collection that looks reality in the face, renounces excuses and sets out the reasons why it is worthwhile to “compose the language of effort”; the effort to paint our walls in the best possible way, as we want and seek to do.
University of Oxford Postgraduate