Tryfon Tolides was born in Korifi, Greece, and moved to America at the age of six. He has a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and received an M.F.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University.
An Almost Pure Empty Walkingby Tryfon Tolides
In his debut collection, chosen by Mary Karr as a winner of the 2005 National Poetry Series, Tryfon Tolides weaves together poems that speak of desire, loss, and small joys. Tolides was born in a tiny village in Greece and his work is rooted in the mountains and wind and the deep interior of that place; his poems express a longing and a searching for peace, for home, for beauty, for escape. These poems constitute a lament, whether they concern themselves with the difficulties of assimilation or the question of whether it is possible for people to live with one another in a spirit of true understanding. They prove that the physical and the metaphysical can share residence, can even be one and the same.
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These poems find their way into your heart like an Elvis refrigerator magnet. They start with a simple, breezy, off-hand lightness. Then, as you turn the pages, you begin to feel that they are not going to let go of you. You feel them becoming part of the furniture of your everyday world. As Tolides writes in 'There Is A Window in Maine:' 'you will remember this/window, this caress,/the curtain soft, rustling.' Like the gypsies in 'Circus,' these poems 'pass through like comets,' and are destined to be long-remembered and talked about for generations.
These poems are rather pedestrian, unfortunately, without any qualities that stand out and grab you, which is why I gather so few have been previously published before (shocking how few legitimate publication credits the poet has, given how supposedly prestigeous this prize is). It's a shame--I wanted to be impressed & for this book to rightfully earn its National Poetry Prize win, but I'm afraid I have to agree with the critics that this is just a case of a judge chosing their student for a prize and that all recriminations to come are deserved.