Roger Green is an English poet living on the Greek island of Hydra. He lives and works full-time in Kamini, regaling the locals with his parodic verse, particularly at the seasonal opening and closing of the Pirofani Restaurant. Among his publications are several books of poetry, including Wolvercote Dreaming and Notes from Overground by Tiresias.
“Green started work in Thebes as a teacher in his twenties, moved to Crete and then returned to the UK where he worked as a translator—from Greek to English—for the government. Family life and commitments kept him for many years in Wolvercote, near Oxford. That he is now back in Greece is a question of going full circle, but the fact that he landed on Hydra was more a matter of chance. He was offered a teaching job. When the teaching stopped, he stayed.
He lives in a modest two-room first-floor apartment which overlooks Cohen’s garden and his now-sickly banana plants. Inside, the clutter of books indicates he might only have moved in last week; in fact, he has been on the island for ten years, seven of them here. Eschewing modern technology, he makes notes on pieces of old card, works on a forty year old Olivetti typewriter and although he does now have a telephone, it seems to understand it is not very welcome: its cable is to be seen making a dash for it out of the window and over the balcony towards some invisible, more friendly, connection point. For a man on a quest for what he calls the ‘in-between’ of existence, this accommodation seems apt.”
—Jonathan Carr, “Literary Lions and Lines of Hydra,” 2004
Hydra and the Bananas of Leonard Cohen
A British poet turns 53, moves to a Greek island, becomes obsessed with the island’s most famous ex-resident-singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen-and writes a book about it all. It’s an eclectic mixture of memoir, diary, scrapbook and philosophical ramblings. Green, the poet, finds himself living next door to a garden full of banana trees owned by 1970s pop star Cohen (referred to only by the initial “L.”). Inexplicably, Green becomes powerfully attracted to the bananas and their absent owner. He begins to see bananas everywhere: in the Old Testament (did Adam and Eve clothe themselves in banana leaves?), in Robbe-Grillet poems, on the cover of L.’s album I’m Your Man. He even goes so far as to befriend some of L.’s old acquaintances on the island, including a fellow poet and L.’s former lover, Suzanne, who is, alas, not the Suzanne of the famous L. song. The goal of all this good-natured stalking is unclear, but this isn’t a book of goals, or even conclusions; it’s simply an expression of what is, clearly, an enviable and rewarding existence. Green’s idiosyncrasies occasionally annoy-as when he starts a new paragraph with the sentence, “I think I’ll start a new paragraph”-but just as often he produces little treasures, such as a raunchy 1950s rumba celebrating “Chiquita Banana, down in Martinique,” who “dresses in bananas with the modern technique.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (c) 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.