Poetry & Prose (Essay) by N.N. Trakakis – 2012
“FROM DUSK TO DAWN”
Poetry and essay collection by N.N. Trakakis, 2012 edition
At Diasporic Literature Spot, being a literary website, from time to time we receive books from established as well as aspiring writers. I would say that in most cases these books can be a hassle to read and an even bigger problem to write about. However there are those certain books, by certain emerging or inspiring and aspiring writers that we feel privileged to receive, to hold in our hand and to read deepest thoughts in creamy or white colour pages. These specific books are the reason why Diasporic Literature is in existence. They provide stimulation and a pleasure that we can and will talk about. They contain much artistic beauty that jumps out of the pages to provoke memories or specific points in time that remain frozen in people’s thoughts until the writer, like a magician, releases them into the global mind space.
In the book “From Dusk to Dawn” most of its 320 pages are slavery to the beauty of the written word by an author who leaves no stone unturned to expose and discuss life’s mystifications. It is the work of a dreamer who extends beyond literary sanctity changing proclaimed values and reaching out steadfastly for the ideal stars in poesy as well as inner peace discussing his experiences. I really like such poetry.
This is the first time that I have seen a pluralist’s work that aroused my interest so, at first look making me feel that this book is special. I know I have commented favorably on Trakakis’ work before but this book has really surprised me. I found it to be a blend of passion for creativity and ethos, an adventure into the imaginary inner self, whilst remaining glued to the grounds of reality, even so somewhat uncertain as to its intended audience.
The style is informal, however with a great deal of clarity, fluidity and conciseness. Despite all of the above, this book did not affect my personal beliefs as such and the chronologically ordered ideas of the diary like structure seemed to be somewhat distant from a philosophical genre that it tries to use.
“Good Morning! to you too
I never promised you the sun
so don’t go complaining
if you can’t see
that your temptation tricks
have grown tired
and I know
you are tired of them, too…”
[p. 107, untitled]
The cover designed by Peter Lyssiotis depicts elegantly what the title infers, the dusk and the start of a new dawn, which provides a pair of old shoes to help one take the journey among its pages. These old shoes is not clear what they symbolise, however they can provoke the reader to use as much imagination as they can master. If anything else I would rather see some brand new shoes, ready to be worn for the journey. Besides, I see Trakakis as a demanding young man trying to understand what is around him, rather than an old fool like me still trying to look for diamonds in so much sludge and muck.
But there is another aspect of Trakakis’ character and ethos that protrudes from the pages of his book; and that is the spiritual side of his thoughts. Whether you agree or not with his beliefs in some way the narrator forces the reader to respect his intellect. How else would he be successful in presenting such magnificent piece of writing, unless he was disciplined in his approach and consistent in his effort?
In his essays he reveals a number of conversations where it is evident that religion is very important in his life, to the point where he loses his partner Zoe. As the writer pointed out to me, the characters and stories in the book are “mainly fiction” I must take this as a given and not dwell too much on his inner beliefs however here’s an extract:
I didn’t contact Zoe at all today, waiting for her to contact me to let me know when and where she would like to meet. Eventually, at around 5pm, she left a brief message on my phone, saying that she is too tired to meet today and would like instead to meet for brunch tomorrow. I thanked her, but within I felt sad at not being able to see her today and anxious trying to second-guess what she’ll say tomorrow.
It’s now way past midnight, and I can’t sleep, my mind turning over the possibilities for tomorrow and wondering how I got myself in this position in the first place.
Dug deep in dark despair at dead of night.
-Sarah Wardle, “Set Pieces: Nocturne”
We met around noon, at a restaurant near her apartment. She ordered a wine, and displayed no interest in discussing our relationship. I felt somewhat distressed about this, but I made an effort to take as much interest as possible in her weekend away…
“I really like you and enjoy being with you, but soon after we met you became increasingly obsessed with your work and with religion in a really scary way. It just reminded me of my father so much. God and religion and church and your books and your reading and writing have just taken over your life, and there’s no room left for me. So I can’t see any future for us. I don’t want to be stuck in another relationship that drags on and on and doesn’t get anywhere. I’m too old for that now, and I don’t have any more time to waste.”
I understood her completely. But I was also hurt and disappointed to hear that the very things that mean most to me, and the values and goals that I have, are the very things she does not like about me….
One must find their own way in accepting life for what it is, and must also find their own representation of the creator in order that they can overcome their weaknesses and bestow hope for the future in their aspirations.
However the purpose of this book, although a little hard to explain since it is a mixture of poetry, prose and proverbs ( I much prefer his eloquent poetry ), it seems to me reflects the uncertainty of the writer’s life goal. He has exposed a sense of hope in the midst of disjointedness in literary expectations. As the purpose seems unclear it still consists of a dedication to honesty and sensitiveness that should appeal to many readers.
As for me, I wanted to see something that I could relate to, something that would come close to my thoughts as a young man; the disappointments of thinking at some point that I found my answers to all my questions when I really didn’t. The distress of finding that the religion imposed by others did not really represent me and that I had to find the religion within me, and god within me for that matter, to make me feel at ease with myself.
One may also argue that Trakakis is trying to convince the reader about God, Christianity and Christ, something that may not go down well with some readers as they have their own beliefs about such widely used terms and ideals. This argument also explains why most days he feels “distraught… about the recent disparity in my thoughts”.
On the negative side, I noticed some inconsistencies about the essays in this book. I am not sure whether that was intentional but as the essay is quite different to poetry it needs to have a kind of reality about it expressed as a logical flow of events. Furthermore the theme in this book is a little unclear since the title is very wide and the reader needs to get to the last page before making up their mind. Perhaps this is the intention and in that case I have no issues. Additionally there are a few generalizations in the theme and in author’s beliefs about religious intolerance that he finds contaminates the social group he lives in. These seem pretty real feelings to me and experiences that disappoint rather than encourage, but again this could be the intention. It also exposes to the reader some of the narrator’s inner spiritual beliefs, which cannot but be respected.
In general I find this work by N.N. Trakakis fascinating, a meticulous piece of personae expressed poetry that blends within prose which in turn represents stark reality. I recommend it to all idealists who wish to see how literature can be expressed through a voice of honesty, something that signifies the mystique behind spontaneous or even lasting human relationships.