KIMON FRIAR Lecture Series Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
Articles on Greece by AURELIA
Last November marked the fifth anniversary of an outstanding literary event, the Kimon Friar Lectures in Modern Greek Art and Letters sponsored by the American College of Greece in Athens. Kimon Friar, translator of Kazantzakis' epic poem, The Odyssey, taught and encouraged many translators and modern poets and writers in Greek and English. The lecture series was established in 1994, one year after his death to honor his memory and his outstanding accomplishments.
The series has developed a popular following and many Americans who are familiar with the subjects of the lectures and with the works of the renowned presenters mark their calendars for November in Athens.
This year's event featured Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, author of 'The Angel Poems and Other Writings.' The poet, who had a special relationship with Kimon Friar and was his student, is also the Goddaughter of Nikos Kazantzakis.
The first presentation in the lecture series was given in 1994 by Roderick Beaton who spoke on 'Kimon Friar as a Translator of Modern Greek Poetry.' Others included, Edmund Keeley , 'C.P. Cavafy: The Essential Alexandrian,' 1995;
Peter Bien, 'Kazantzakis' Long Apprenticeship to Christian Themes,' 1996; Stratis Haviaris, 'Millennial Afterlives: A Retrospective,' 1997; and Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, 1998.
In his lifetime, Friar was a beacon for modern Greek literature and, through his translations, helped introduce the American public to the Greek modernists. Born in Turkey in 1911, he was taken to American at an early age and lived in Chicago. Early on he distinguished himself as a poet, anthologist, editor, and teacher, but his life was filled with controversy and his personality described as 'paranoid.' A man in perpetual motion, he served as Director of the Poetry Center in New York City, produced numerous avant garde plays, and presented radio broadcasts on Greek culture that were heard on 'The Voice of America.'
Kimon Friar was among the first, along with Rae Dalven, to bring Greek poetry to the attention of American readers. He was among the most active in this pursuit and helped influence the tastes of a whole generation of American readers and writers. Thanks to Friar, Dalven, and others, translations of the best and brightest of the Greek poets, such as C. P. Cavafy, Odysseus Elytis, Yannis Ritsos, and 'Takis' Sinopoulos, helped to cultivate the sensibilities of many serious students of literature, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Mrs. Onassis admired the translation of Cavafy's poem, 'Ithaka,' by Edmund Kelley and Philip Sherrard. At her request, it was read at her funeral by Maurice Templesman, her companion, and appeared in its entirety the following day in The New York Times' report of the service. Soon after that, the translation by Keeley and Sherrard was in demand and the publishers re-printed the book.
The Kimon Friar Lectures in Modern Greek Art and Letters is an annual, November event sponsored by The American College of Greece, located in Aghia Paraskevi about 10 to 12 kilometers outside Athens.
Matthew Jennett, Curator of Rare Books at the College, organizes the popular series, offered at no charge and open to the public. Mr. Jennett said it was established 'in honor of one of the pre-eminent Greek-American personalities of the 20th century,' and added that this fifth anniversary was a cause for celebration because it accomplished 'the feat of translating a vision into reality.'
For more information, write to Matthew Jennett, Curator of Rare Books, The American College of Greece, 6 Gravias Street, GR-153 42 Aghia Paraskevi, Athens, Greece. Mr. Jennett can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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