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Yannis Ritsos: new English translations and visualisations including a tribute to Edmund Keeley
David Harsent, Chiara Ambrosio, David Ricks, Gonda Van Steen and John Kittmer
Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990) was one of the greatest Greek poets of the twentieth century and has achieved worldwide acclaim. A prolific writer (in both poetry and prose), he lived some of the most tumultuous moments in recent Greek history. In the 1930s, his work was banned by the Metaxas dictatorship. The Greek military junta (1967-1974) proscribed his published work and prevented him from publishing new work. None of this stopped his prodigious writing. During the junta, when he was imprisoned and under house arrest, he smuggled his work overseas for publication beyond Greek shores. His fame grew: those years saw increasing international interest in and translation of Ritsos’s work. After the fall of the Colonels, he resumed his publishing career in full, writing until his death in 1990.
We are pleased to introduce two new books of Ritsos’s work in English. In March, the award-winning poet David Harsent published A Broken Man in Flower: Versions of Yannis Ritsos, intro. John Kittmer (Hexham: Bloodaxe, 2023). In May, a new edition of Paul Merchant's translation of Ritsos’s Monochords was published, featuring linocut responses by Chiara Ambrosio, and a foreword by David Harsent (London: Prototype, 2023). Our event will include an introduction by John Kittmer, readings and illustrations by David Harsent and Chiara Ambrosio, and a panel discussion of these new works, chaired by Professor David Ricks. It will be preceded by a tribute by Gonda Van Steen, David Ricks and John Kittmer to Edmund Keeley (1928-2022), who was himself one of Ritsos’s most compelling translators into English.
This event will not be livestreamed or recorded. A reception will follow. There will be opportunities to purchase both new books.