Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet writing in English and Slovak. Her award-winning collection of Slovak poems ‘A Butterfly’s Trembling in the Digital Age’was translated into German by Inge and Petr Stahl and published by Hein Verlag (Germany) in 2015 and translated into English by John Minahane and published by Parthian Books (UK) in 2017. Eleni’s English-language poems appeared in many poetry journals, including Atticus Review, Glasgow Review of Books, Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen or Envoi. Her poems were also published in French (e.g. Le Monde), Romanian (e.g. Pro-Saeculum) and Filipino (as part of The Poeziomat exhibited in the City of Manila in 2018).
Eleni’s first two pamphlets- ‘Colours of the Swan’ and ‘Autumn Dedications’ – were published by Westbury Arts Centre during her poetry residency at the Centre in 2014-2015. The position brought together Eleni’s interests in poetry, music and collaborative arts and resulted in exhibitions in the Milton Keynes Gallery and 5thBase Gallery in London. In 2016, Eleni was a Poet in Residence for the London’s garden St Dunstans in the East as part of the Mixed Borders project, organised by Poetry School and London Parks & Gardens. Eleni had her third pamphlet published by Eyewear in 2017 and was invited to present it at the London Troubadour (UK) and Harvard University (USA).
Eleni is known for her filmpoems, dancepoems and innovative poetic combinations, which have been screened at international festivals and featured on Button Poetry and Moving Poems with over 50k views. As part of her ongoing efforts to enrich contemporary poetry with new art forms and diverse voices, Eleni has created a ‘Living Book about Dancepoetry’, a fascinating new genre that brings together dancers and poets. Eleni runs free workshops for artists interested in making their own film- and dance-poems, including for The Poetry School and University College London. Her dancepoems have been performed in the UK and France by professional and amateur dancers.
In 2018, Eleni’s poem ‘Evergreen Carol’ was shortlisted in the Bedford International Writing Competition; the poem ‘Redemption’ was longlisted in The Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Competition and the poems ‘Ariadne’s Dandelions’ and ‘The Journey Home’ were highly commended in the Poetry Stanza Competition by Poetry Society, UK.
Eleni loves cloud-watching, playing the piano and harp. She is fluent in seven languages and currently lives in Norway where she is full Professor at the University of Stavanger.
Oranges are the Only Fruit /
My grandfather unwrapped his first orange when he was nine.
He didn’t wash his hands till Three Kings’ Day,
the sweet essence lingering on his calluses.
He used to say grandma’s hugs were like oranges in winter.
My parents plundered a few when they were young.
The bold sweetness of Valencias ignited a land
of opportunity inside their mouths. They gobbled the
flesh together with the skin, blinded by the flushed sun.
Mr McPhee bought as many as the words he wrote for The New Yorker.
Unsure whether to cut them into nine like planets or into quarters
like lunch for the businessmen. They tasted of a pre-dawn running,
pesticide-rich, fruitless manufactured concentrate to him.
I have experienced many. Too many for one person to carry.First published by Poetry Ireland Review
I calorie-checked, Instagrammed, changed them beyond recognition.
With yellow nails you carved out the seeds, now the oranges are mine,
you said. No one can put fruit back together once it is cut in half.
Soldiers’ graves /
Inside the innocent poppy heads
there are billions of small black bullets.
Their unrequited kisses
leave empty spaces in-between the wild rye.
It doesn’t matter how many you hurt in the combat.
The fleeting sunset does it every evening to the sky.
What unites us is the red blood,First published in Glasgow Review of Books
setting out from the heart.
Welcome, digital! /
A few years ago thoughts spoke
with pen and paper.
Now a small box can be their medium.
No need for tickets, dressing, scheduling:
from stage to auditorium,
when and wherever endlessly,
The digital holds everything, all sorts.
Chance meetings, lies, creeds, travellers’ reports.
Maybe it’s fine
that your message bleeps in the quiet of a wood.
One curses and the other thinks it good.
One photographs, the other writes some pages.
For their feelings people
always seek refuges.
So welcome, digital!
My fantasy’s new well and source.
As if it went on water,
an aircraft runs its course.
I welcome it and then,
dazzled by the hopes,
lose myself therein.First published in ‘A Butterfly’s Trembling in the Digital Age‘, published by Parthian, 2017, translated from Slovak ‘Vitaj, digitálno!’ by John Minahane
Goraikou (御来光) /
Wordless melodies unfold the vast space
where we came from but no longer belong.
We needed to hurt, we needed to go wrong
to have an offering for Lord’s mercy.
One day, stripped off our vivid tempers and textured dresses,
we will rise to the sublime.
Guided by His grace,
unfinished memories will rock all tones to silence,
we will climb the smooth bones of time,
begging for forgiveness.First published in ‘A Small Love Dictionary of Untranslatable Japanese Words’ by Eyewear Press, 2018