January 4, 2012 Greek Poet Odysseas Elytis and the Hispanic World, Jan. 27

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Surrealist poet Odysseas Elytis, the leading Greek poet of his generation and a Nobel Prize winner, influenced Hispanic literature in the late 1930s and in the 1940s.

Poets Pedro Serrano and Rei Berroa will discuss the Nobel laureate’s importance in a presentation “Odysseas Elytis and the Hispanic World” at the Library of Congress at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 in the West Dining Room, on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event, which is free and open to the public, commemorates the centennial of Elytis’ birth. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Poetry and Literature Center, the Hispanic Division and the European Division at the Library of Congress, as well as the Embassy of Greece and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Elytis was born Odysseas Alepoudelis in Heraklion, Crete, on Nov. 2, 1911, and died in Athens in 1996. He is the author of 16 books of poetry in Greek, seven of which have been published in English. His most notable titles include “Prosanatolizmi” (Orientations), published in 1936, and “To Axion Esti” (Worthy It Is), published in 1959. Elytis also translated Federico García Lorca’s “Romancero Gitano” (Gypsy Ballads) into Greek.

In 1979, Elytis became the second Greek poet to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The first was George Seferis in 1963. The Nobel committee gave the award to Elytis “for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness.”

Serrano is a Mexican poet, translator and editor. He edits the poetry website Periódico de Poesía, and has edited the anthology “La generación del cordero: Antología de la poesía actual en las Islas Británicas” (The Lamb Generation), which features translations of contemporary British poets. Serrano teaches literature at the National Autonomous University. His honors include a Guggenheim fellowship.

Berroa, born in the Dominican Republic, is a poet and a professor of Spanish literature at George Mason University. He is the author of four books of poetry, including “Libro de los fragmentos” (Book of Fragments), and he is the recipient of multiple honors, including the International Poetry Award of Trieste in 2001 and a “Medaille de Vermeil” from the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters of Paris in 2009.

The Hispanic Division is the center for the study of the culture and societies of Latin America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula and other areas with significant Spanish or Portuguese influence. The division holds the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, started in 1942, which includes 700 original voice recordings by Luso-Hispanic and Caribbean poets and prose writers. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/.

The European Division is responsible for providing reference and for developing the Library’s collections relating to continental Europe except for Iberia. Its European Reading Room should be the starting point for readers whose interests concern European countries other than Spain, Portugal, Great Britain and Ireland. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/european/.

The Poetry and Literature Center fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate), and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library’s Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/.


PR 12-003
ISSN 0731-3527