Yannis Ritsos with Chiara Ambrosio

Translated by Paul Merchant

Matthew Stuart (Design) TJ Books (Printer)




ISBN: 9781913513429


Publication date: 5 May 2023



Returning to the island of Samos during the summer of 1979, where he had spent long periods of exile throughout his life, Greek poet Yannis Ritsos composed a remarkable collection of 336 single-line poems, written at a rate of about 10 a day: the Monochords, each line an essential observation of a moment; a personal archive of time past, present and future.

In London in 2020, during a period of Covid confinement, artist and filmmaker Chiara Ambrosio began responding to Ritsos’ words through linocut images: an experiment in entering the space opened by each poem, rendering it in line and shape; a daily ritual that accompanied her along a strange year of exile from life.

With an Introduction by David Harsent and Afterword by Gareth Evans.

‘Yannis Ritsos composed monochorda, single-line poems, as antidotes to the concocted complexities silencing truth. Chiara Ambrosio’s linocuts, beautifully intermingled with Ritsos’s words, add their own ascetic harmony to his monochorda, thus boosting their pertinence to our dissonant age.’ – Yanis Varoufakis

‘This meditative book is an inspiring act of repair twice over, for ordeals of seclusion, threat, and tedium past and present.’ – Marina Warner

‘The essence of a thought, a sign, a glimmer, all in the fleet line of a poem necessitating nothing more. Like a surrealist calendar, Yannis Ritsos’s Monochords find singular moments and observations, both gentle and anxious, to measure the days, seeking hope in the real. Chiara Ambrosio’s illuminated inspirations open this work to a dance of suggestion, where beauty can never be too far, nor too soon.’ – Thurston Moore

‘A major poem by one of the greatest European poets of the past 100 years, in an exemplary translation & with a further superb expansion into a year’s journey of linocuts make this book a vessel that holds urgently needed communal life-force.’ – Stephen Watts

‘One of the most distinctive works by one of the truly necessary writers of our scorched and struggling earth.’ – Gareth Evans