Learning to Love in Greek

They said beware eros, though many
begin with madness. Learn to fall
in love with dancing – this is ludic,
the love you felt for skipping ropes
or bikes. If eros and ludus combine
you may suffer mania, the white blood
of the moon that petrifies. Grow phillia,
the love of football fans on terraces.
Chant together. Fight with the same heart. 

If you have children or a puppy
you’ll know storgi, it rhymes with be.
It sits at kitchen tables, magnetises
crayon drawings to fridges. If you don’t
have these, you may feel storgi
from an old aunt, a mate. A lover
might see the child hiding in you
from a cowlick of grey that won’t
be brushed straight. Then philautia,
loving the self. Not so easy. For others,
who dive into pools of themselves,
too easy. Be your own best friend.
When love moves into a house
with a mortgage and enough space
for the future, this is pragma.
To stand in love comes after falling.
Pray you’ll land on your feet. 

Above all, agapè – when you forget
who you are and take someone’s hand.

by Maria Taylor

‘Learning to Live in Greek’ is copyright © Maria Taylor, 2020 and is reprinted from Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches Press, 2020) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches Press:

Dressing for the Afterlife is a diamond-tough and tender second collection of poems from British Cypriot poet Maria Taylor, which explores love, life, and how we adapt to the passage of time. From the steely glamour of silent film-star goddesses to moonlit seasons and the ghosts of other possible, parallel lives, these poems shimmy and glimmer bittersweet with humour and brio, as Taylor conjures afresh a world where Joan Crawford feistily simmers and James Bond’s modern incarnation is mistaken for an illicit lover.

Consistently crisp and vivid, these poems examine motherhood, heritage and inheritance, finding stories woven in girlhood’s faltering dance-steps, the thrum of the sewing-machine at the end-days of the rag trade, or the fizz and bubble of a chip-shop fryer. And throughout, breaking through, is the sense of women finding their wings and taking flight – “and her wings, what wings she has” – as Taylor’s own poems soar and defiantly choose their own adventures.

You can read more about the collection and watch Maria read a selection of poems from it on the Nine Arches website. You can also watch the launch of the book on YouTube. In addition to Maria, the launch event featured readings from Mona Arshi and ignitionpress poet Kostya Tsolakis.

Maria Taylor is a British Cypriot poet, critic and reviewer who has been published in The Rialto, Magma and the TLS, among other publications. Her debut collection of poetry, Melanchrini, was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize, and her poetry featured in the Penguin anthology The Poetry of Sex, edited by Sophie Hannah. She has a pamphlet, Instructions for Making Me (2016), and is also the creator of Poetry Bingo, a quirky set of cards which are part-game and part-concrete poem, both from HappenStance. She is also a keen runner and walker and lives in Leicestershire. Read more about Maria’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have published over one hundred poetry publications. Read more about the press  here and follow Nine Arches on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.