Reviewed in Publishers Weekly
PLEASURE is a book-length poem which muses on the phenomenology of solitude in a pastoral landscape, written in a diaristic, lyric mode, where the queer “I” alternately savors the decadence of isolation and stands at the precipice of despair. A travelogue in verse, PLEASURE takes place in Syros, the Greek island to which author Angelo Nikolopolous travels a few weeks after the discovery of his mother’s brain tumor. These intertextual, elliptical explorations of solitude and sensuality interweave images of seaside roaming, secluded town life, and ephemeral sexual encounters with the ubiquitous implication of death—the waning summer, the ill, perhaps dying, mother. Staring down true disconnection—both physical and psychic orphanhood—Nikolopoulos writes about the thrill and sadness of turning your back against the world and those in it only to rediscover that which tethers all to human experience: the quotidian, singular pleasures of having a body.
A row of seven cypress trees, religiously tall,
hedges the field below, itself in turn
water-hedged by mineral coastal blue.
Why seven? Why have you come here?
Not another soul for miles.
You will find much beauty here
Mrs. Ioanna says opening the balcony door.
Beneath the field, though I’ve yet to see it,
a cliff points over the craggy shore.
I came to test whether it’s true—
if the best things happen to you when you’re alone.
Maybe in the end you’ll find nothing useful here,
my mind says. You are old, you have done
terrible things. In the dusk, beyond language,
the field empties itself of color.
About the Author