It's always such a pleasure to hold a new Phoenicia book in my hands, knowing that the author's work has been put into print for present-day readers and for posterity, and that I've played a role in making that happen.
I first became aware of Magda Kapa through our mutual friend Teju Cole, and began reading her blog ("I Was Not Born in English") and following her on Twitter, where she was quite active and experimental, writing short poems and aphorisms, or short sayings/definitions. We left each other comments, and gradually became friends, with her Greek heritage and my classicist background as another connection.
"In 2013 I spent a whole year on Twitter exploring the meaning of “big” words like life, death, love, sex, pain, pride, violence, hope… When I started writing these “definitions” in January that year, I had no idea they’d become a project. I had just entered a period in my life where reflection and its creative documentation not only felt necessary but became my life’s red thread. A thread far from following a straight line, though, but mostly curling into circles that only slowly, if at all, formed a moving spiral. Most of the words escaped permanent definitions; life kept, and keeps, redefining them for me."
This project, named "All the Words," became a journal of aphorisms, short sayings, epigrams, and "naked verses." Poet and translator George Szirtes was one of thousands of readers captivated by Magda Kapa's project, and praised her writing as "the pared-down core of poetry;" Dave Bonta stated that Magda Kapa is "a master of the aphorism" and that her book will be on his shelf along with classics of Chinese, Hebrew, and Sufi literature.
Eventually, Magda approached me about the possibility of turning "All the "Words" into a printed book. I read and re-read the manuscript, and we talked. Magda described the manuscript as a Heraclitian river, and I liked that: the term comes from the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who said "No man ever steps in the same river twice." Although Magda revisited many words in the course of a year, life kept redefining them for her. In my page design for the book, I tried to keep this sense of constant change, and Magda's "moving spiral" was the inspiration for the calligraphic painting I did for the cover.
Here's a look inside:
Several of you have already ordered the book and we appreciate that very much. I hope some other Cassandra readers, too, may want to dip into the ever-changing river of Magda Kapa's thoughts: it has certainly helped me find new ways of considering my own relationship to the everyday words with which we define our lives and their movement through time.
Furthermore, please know that your support of a book like this encourages the sort of experimentation and creativity that mainstream publishers have almost completely abandoned. I think it's crucial for all of us who care about language in general, and poetry in particular, to support writing that breaks new ground, uses non-traditional media, and expands our awareness of how our minds work with words.
ALL THE WORDS is only available through direct order from Phoenicia, and we are able to ship it anywhere for very reasonable prices.