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Cavafy Museum Soon in Athens

Konstantinos Kavafis

Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafis

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) In less than one year and a half, Athens will boast its own C. P. Cavafy Museum at the tourist Plaka district.The Ministry of Culture has ceded a neoclassical building, which served as the residence of mid-19th-century political leader Ioannis Kolettis.Hellenic Postbank will financially support the endeavour of restoring and remodelling the premises.The museum’s exhibits and material will be based on Thessaloniki University Cavafologist, Professor George Savidis’ (1929-1995) archive. The museum’s establishment and operation will be overseen by the Centre for Neo-Hellenic Studies.The archive of Constantine P. Cavafy was passed over to Alekos Singhopoulos upon the poet’s will the year of his demise (1933).Singhopoulos maintained the archive until 1969, when he sold it to Professor George Savidis.The unusual care with which Cavafy treated Singhopoulos, along with their resemblance, led to the assumption that Singhopoulos might have been the poet’s son. According to another assumption, Singhopoulos was the illegitimate child of the poet’s brother.

C. P. Cavafy : The Cavafy Museum in Alexandria [Photo: Cavafy’s portrait by Jean Kefallinos]

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Cavafy in Russian

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The world of Constantinos Cavafy has just opened up to Russian lovers of poetry, thanks to a new book of his verse in translation. This exciting journey has been made possible with the publication of a beautifully crafted edition “Constantine Cavafy: Complete Poems,” translated by Sonia Ilinskaya. The latter began her work on Cavafy in 1967 and is credited with introducing the Alexandrian poet to the broader Russian public. The publication of the new volume was carried out with the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture and the National Library of Greece, as part of the activities of the Faculty of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University. It is also noteworthy that the Hellenic Foundation of Culture in Alexandria is hosting a tribute to Cavafy until February 28, including exhibitions of drawings and paintings, a book-fair with Cavafy’s poets in translation (in 25 languages), film screenings and poetry readings, aiming to present the impact of the work of the Alexandrian poet worldwide.

A Farewell to Greece / Αποχαιρετισμός στην Ελλάδα

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   In a letter published in Sunday “Kathimerini,” on December 28, 2008, Simon Gass, until recently British Ambassador to Athens, bids a warm farewell to Greece (pdf in Greek). 
“Write if you can on your last shell
the day the place the name
and fling it into the sea so that it sinks”
“Santorini -The naked child”- Giorgos Seferis 
In a few days, my wife and I are leaving Greece after eight blissful years in your country; first during the 80’s and the second time these past years. Greece has been good to us. […] 
Greece and its people exercise an intense influence on foreigners. British writer Lawrence Durrell wrote: “Other countries can make you discover customs, traditions or landscapes. Greece offers you something harsher: self-discovery.”  In Greece, us northern Europeans, leave behind some of our cold-blooded nature and reservation and become more extroverted, seeking the company of other people. […] 
We don’t think Greece has given us permission to leave the country indefinitely. When we do return, it will not be just for the peoples or the landscape, but because Greece is a country which we admire for many different things. 
“May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time”
“Ithaca”- Constantine P. Cavafy  
Still, it won’t be Greece[…] 
Thank you, Greece.                 

Reading Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Homer :   Where is Ithaca described in detail in Homer’s Odyssey? The island of Ithaki, most have assumed. But Homer says that Ithaca is “furthest towards the dark,” i.e. the west, a group of islands. In their fascinating albeit controversial award-winning best-seller, published by Cambridge University Press in October 2005, titled “Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca”, Robert Bittlestone, enthusiastic Homerist, geologist John Underhill, and classics scholar James Diggle believe the island of Kefalonia is indeed the answer, or rather, its westernmost peninsula Paliki. In the “Odysseus Unbound” website (www.odysseus-unbound.org) you can read more about their project. The book has been updated with the latest developments from the island of Kefalonia and is published in Athens by PolytroponContinue reading

Greece: Book Presentations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Denis Guedj :    Professor of History of Science at Paris VIII University Denis Guedj is known as a successful novelist of many books inspired by the ‘art’ of mathematics. His best seller “The Parrot’s Theorem” was translated in 20 languages and paved the way for the ‘mathematical fiction’ trend. His work enticed many others to follow his example in an equally original way. Greek writer Apostolos Doxiadis is one of the novelists who experimented on the narrative possibilities offered by mathematics. The Greek audience has the chance to meet Guedj who is in Athens for two lectures, one delivered yesterday at the Athens Concert Hall on ‘Science and Literature’ and another one at the French Institute of Thessaloniki today.    Continue reading

Publications on Cavafy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Three new editions of the acclaimed Greek poet C.P. Cavafy are presented in the latest issue of the “London Review of Books” (20.3.2008) and in “The Times” (14.3.2008). Charles Simic, in his article “Some Sort of Solution” reviews The Collected Poems by C.P. Cavafy, translated by Evangelos Sachperoglou, (Oxford University Press, 2007) and The Canon by C.P. Cavafy, translated by Stratis Haviaras (Harvard University Press, 2007). Alongside his commentary, Simic gives a brief account on Cavafy’s adventurous childhood in Egypt and England, his adult life in Alexandria, the poets by whom he was influenced and those he influenced as well as the main categories of his poetry and his language.  Margaret Reynolds in her review “Classics – Selected Poems by C. P. Cavafy, translated by Avi Sharon” presents the Penguin Classics collection (to be released in June) and points out his links to British Literature and Poetry, as  E.M.Forster, W.H.Auden and T.E.Lawrence were among his admirers. Continue reading

Greece and World Poetry Day

       Ithaka

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery…   

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years…

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey…
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Constantine P. Cavafy  ( 1911, translated by Edmund Keeley)

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Today, (March 21) is World Poetry Day, as declared by UNESCO in 1999. The aim is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.” World Poetry Day has existed in some form since 1505, according to the National Poetry Day Committee. From ancient to contemporary times, Greece’s tradition in poetry is long acknowledged globally. Young, talented Greek poets continue to grace this tradition and expand it with their works. On the occasion of the World Poetry Day, the National Book Centre (in Greek) is organising a series of events that will take place in several areas across the country. Continue reading