Why Elephants No Longer Communicate in Greek

I have been reading, with significant delight, a volume of poetry by Timons Esaias, titled Why Elephants No Longer Communicate in Greek. It was published this year by Concrete Wolf (Kingston, Washington), and was the winner of the 2015 Louis Award. Poets who are age 50 or older, and have not previously had a full volume of poetry published, are eligible for the Louis Award Series. I had not been familiar with this poet, who teaches at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh—where he lives.

He can be very clever and funny in his poems, and sometimes hair-raisingly serious. Here’s his example of in-your-face cleverness:

Poetry Defined


is an affectation

of those who

not only

can’t fill the page,

they can’t

even get the line all the way across.

Esaias is extraordinarily erudite about history and literature.
And not without pungent opinions. Here’s a passage from
“Like An Old War Horse”:

Safely in the ground lies the last war horse,
three or four decades now; and more than a century
is gone since any horse, trained to gunpowder,
joined, nostrils flaring, in a proper charge

Were I still a creative writing professor, I would use this volume
as a textbook. Mainly because he is very effective at getting
the reader right into the place, or concept, of his poems.
One of the few concerns I have about this extraordinary volume
is the rather ornate type-font used for the cover, which
actually makes it challenging to read.


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