Ioannis (Nanos) Valaoritis Greek poet 1921-

He is a poet who has lived in various places in his life like Greece, the UK, France and the United States. This has given him the ability to absorb the qualities of that country’s poetry and to popularise them in all of the other countries he has lived in. He currently lives in Athens. It’s unusual for me to be writing about a poet that is still alive but as you can tell he is quite elderly.

He is said to be one of the best poets of the Hellenic diaspora (community of Greeks outside of Greece) since Constantine Cavafy. He is also linked to George Seferis because of the well known book of their correspondence. Not only that, he assisted with translating the poem King Asini which I mention in my earlier post into English for publication abroad.

Additionally, he met with Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell. He is certainly one of the most well connected poets of that era.

Once again we come across a Valaoritis and he was the great grandson of Aristotle Valaoritis who I have written about in great detail. This Valaoritis was a poet and once again we come across a man who studied law but this time in Athens. This is a common theme for men of this era to study law but they don’t always complete their degrees like this one did.

Just like Angelos Sikelianos he met his American wife in Paris in the 1920’s. That really must have been quite a heady place at that time with the surrealists, Andre Breton and Pablo Picasso also being present at the same time.

He also met TS (Thomas Stearns) Eliot along with George Seferis. It really was quite an involved connected group of poets and artists at this time.

He was also awarded by the Greek government the state poetry prize in 1983 and the Academy of Athens poetry prize in 2004. Plus having a street named after him in Lefkás town.

His personal life is here Ioannis Valaoritis

This is the seventh post in the series of Greek but mainly Lefkádian writers and poets which includes a bonus post from Sententiae Antiquae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

George Seferis

C G Karyotakis

Best wishes

Angela

C G Karyotakis 1896-1928 Greek poet

I’m sure your all getting the feeling now that the area surrounding Lefkás known for its poetry because of the amount of poets I have so far covered. Also, I rather like poetry which is not a thing you would initially think considering I’m quite logical and a scientist.

This poet deserves a post because I was struck by the beauty of his poetry and he lived such a short life.

He also talks about Preveza, the biggest town in the area. Which from everything I’ve ever heard and seen about the place, hasn’t changed at all and will inspire the same melancholic poetry in yourself. (The poet committed suicide shortly after writing that poem).

Kostas Karyotakis suffered the fate of most people born before there time in that his work was only appreciated after he died. He knew his brilliance but couldn’t convince others so this gave him great pain. This is sometimes reflected in his work especially later on.

He was highly intelligent, studied law and became employed in clerical work which he highly disliked. This comes across in his poems but he was able to revolutionise the way poetry was written so there is always a silver lining to everything in life.

He had syphilis which at the time couldn’t be cured which is mainly responsible for his suffering, inability to settle into any position and therefore constant changing of where he was living.

He was sad, suicidal and unfulfilled for the majority of his life so it’s no surprise that he ended his life rather quickly by shooting himself through the heart under a eucalyptus tree.

This is the sixth post in the series of Greek but mainly Lefkádian writers and poets which includes a bonus post from Sententiae Antiquae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

George Seferis

Best wishes

Angela

George Seferis, pen name of Yiorgos Seferiades – Greek poet 1900-1971

He is another renown Greek poet who was an inspiration to Lawrence Durell amongst many others that I have or will talk about at some point. It wasn’t just his poetry that was inspirational though. He studied law in Paris, became a diplomat working for 30 years overseas and translated the works of T S Eliot into Greek.

He was also the first Greek to become a Nobel laureate in 1963 as Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis were only nominated several times in the 1950’s. The second and last was Odysseus Elytis. As you can see George Seferis knew the right people as he moved in the right circles. He was therefore able to inspire changes in the world due to his wide knowledge of the world at that time.

This is why he is one of the more famous Greek poets of recent times. Upon reading his poetry you realise why he deserves that fame. His poetry is so easy to read in English as I happily read 70 pages worth in quite a short period of time. It’s evocative and succinct which is why the Greek language is so good for poetry.

The King of Asini is a poem that includes Greek and references to the Iliad. It’s in both my massive anthology of Greek poems that I have in the UK of which is shown in the pictures and previous posts as well as in the specific George Serefis book that is the initial picture that I have in Greece.

It is not the only poem that references the Odyssey as “Helen” starts off as a play with words from Euripides and then continues as a poem. It’s a what if imagining if simply the idea of Helen started the war for Troy.

George Seferis likes to reference the Odyssey as I found another poem in my Complete poem book that I liked and I’m going to share it with you.

Here below is a poem that contains a word rarely used and since I love words it warranted inclusion.

I included this poem “Last stop” as it includes a word I’ve never seen before and it might be an explanation for why Americans call there children abcde- abecedary.

An abecedarium is a writing exercise that practices all the letters mostly in alphabetical order like when you see cross stitch samplers or you write “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” because that sentence uses all the letters of the Latin English alphabet. For more information and for other languages see here Abecedary. (Thanks wiki).

He was an outspoken critic of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus as he was both born in Smyrna which was then Turkey and he had a deep love of Cyprus itself. He unfortunately didn’t live to to see the end of the junta as it’s been called so his funeral was a protest against this. It was very well attended as the people wanted to make a statement. I mention this in my Angelos Sikelianos article too as he was the main instigator here.

Here is the personal details of his life from Wikipedia George Serferis. For a more authentic viewpoint here is a native that’s been able to research even more than I have.https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/george-seferis/

This is the fifth post in the series of Greek primarily Lefkadian poets and authors. The bonus post is from Sententiae Ancientae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Which particular writers inspire you to be your very best?

Best wishes

Angela

Meganisi – A Greek Ionian Island

Meganisi means big island in Greek and it is comparable to all the other Princess Islands as they are locally known. The Princess Islands are so called because of the involvement of Onassis. They comprise Meganisi, Skorpios, Skorpidi and Sparti. These are not to be confused with the Prince Islands which are a group of 9 small islands off the coast of Turkey. (Thankyou Google for this).

Ancient History

Meganisi was said to be Krocylea from the Odyssey by Wilhelm Dörpfeld who will be discussed in another article as he made many important evacuations in this area.

Recent history

Papanikolis Cave is famous in this area for its sheer size and breathtaking natural beauty. All of the boat trips from Nidri harbour take you past it as it’s such a unique feature. The legend talks about a World War 2 submarine the “Papanikolis” from which the cave takes its name hiding out here after engaging in battle with the Italians. If you wish to know more about incident read all about it on the Wikipedia page Papanikolis Submarine.

The Olive Oil museum above shows the process that they used to have to go through to extract the oil from the olives. It’s a big mill stone that has to grind the olives to a pulp. The olive harvest takes place every November so the production was always a winter activity when there was less to do elsewhere. The mill is now preserved as a tourist attraction.

Meganisi also hosts the tourists for a traditional dance evening. This is where the ladies are invited to try to repeat what “Mama” did when she was younger. This is to carry the water up from the harbour side to the village of Spartahori on the hill by way of balancing the container on your head and walking a few steps.

(C)Hori [χωρι] is the Greek word for village which you will come across in lots of names like Neohori on Lefkás is New village or Katohori also in Lefkás is Under village. The c sound doesn’t exist in Greek hence it is sometimes represented as above.

“Mama” had to do this a couple of times a day but I have no idea how she managed as nobody ever completes the challenge. Even with the incentive of a bottle for the winner. You are also taught some traditional dance steps. One is for the women which can be done regardless of age or ability and one for the men. It’s a very enjoyable evening with food laid on too. The performance of the dances is spectacular.

More recent history

This is not a war memorial which it appears to be at first but a dedication to a 25 year old coastguard Marinos Zampelios who lost his life battling at sea. There are the same memorials in Corfu (Thankyou internet) where this actually happened. If you believe the Golden Dawn website and I wouldn’t because there so heavily biased it’s unbelievable; “He died preventing Albanian scum from conducting drug wars here.” That language in itself tells you that is not what happened at all but due to lack of other sources I can’t tell you what did happen. It’s quite a shocking event though on an island that only has 3 villages, Spartochori, Vathy as will be mentioned later and Katomeri which has practically no facilities. The entire population of the island is roughly 1 thousand.

Here is a picture of a nice bell tower after that scandalous paragraph to lighten the mood once more.

Sailing

Meganisi is also good for the sailors as they come into Vathy harbour and there are a couple of restaurants here.

(Βάθη) Vathy is another one of those brilliantly named places as it means depth and it most certainly has a deep harbour. It’s always filled to the brim with sailing boats.

Again the spelling is different because beta is a v sound in reality so vita.

I have been on a sailing boat many times to the harbour and have eaten there too. There is a nearby bay that is known as “No Name Bay” and this is where we would stop to swim. There are lots of little bays and inlets here that offer the opportunity to sample unparalleled views without the need to go ashore.

However, if you wish a sojourn on the island; the ferry comes across from Nidri on a regular basis. This allows you to visit without the need to have friends with a boat. Or to go on the Odyssey which is how I have visited in the past. Along with the Ionian Star. Many other commercial boats ply the waters here too so you have quite a pick of transportation.

Are there any relatively unknown corners that are near where you live?

Best wishes

Angela

Saints associated with Lefkás, their churches and shrines

Lefkáda – Panagia Fanoroemeni Monastery (the Virgin Mary) is revealed on August 15th. There are many churches with the same name with the most famous in Cyprus thanks again Google. There is a monastery for her on Lefkás about 3km from Lefkás town. It includes a religious history museum, maritime museum and a zoo. The Venetians had some input to the architectural structure too. This is why it’s the best looking, most well maintained and well known monastery on the island. I am yet to visit this place but you can see many pictures online and on the Wikipedia article there is some info Lefkás but best check elsewhere as it’s rather lacking.

Lefkás town – Santa Maura 3rd May. There is a fort dedicated to her at the top most point of the island. I haven’t visited her either as it was closed the day I wanted to go.

Nidri When they have weddings here it is traditional to honk your horn all the way through the village until they get home which can be quite some distance. It is a very noisy affair as the horn is sounded whenever they feel like it so about every couple of minutes. This is every vehicle in the procession so it can be a cacophony of noise. Just like the Easter celebrations except more vibrant as this is early evening instead of midnight.

White church – This is the church on the top of the island that everyone sees and sometimes they have weddings up here. The panoramic views across the entire area are phenomenal.

Sappho’s leap – St Nicholas the patron saint of Fishermen. St Nicolas 19th December.

Geni – Kiriaki 7th July Agia Kyriaki

This is the shrine below dedicated to her and the church that is nearby. I’ve been inside too for a lovely christening but I didn’t take any pictures as there were 2 professional photographers but I don’t know if I’ll ever see the photos of that event.

As you can see I have visited some areas and not others due to there location.

Do you have any special saints that you worship where you are?

Best wishes

Angela

Pavlos Santorinis

Pavlos Santorinis

https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/pavlos-santorinis/
— Read on greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/pavlos-santorinis/

This man has achieved so much that his work deserves to be promoted more.

He is the first part of my Famous Greeks series.

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Eglouvi and the lentil festival

This happens every August around the 7th. Eglouvi means encased which makes total sense when you visit the village as it’s down in a valley surrounded by hill on all sides. The lentils are well known for there unique creamy texture.

The Greeks love their food as you all know so an excuse to celebrate it is always a good idea. There exported all over the world.

I unfortunately haven’t attended this festival because neither me nor my husband drive and it’s been years since we visited in August. It’s a bit too crowded with what seems like the entirety of Italy and Greece’s admin service visiting on their month off.

This village doesn’t appear to have a Wikipedia article as it’s so small but there are other tourist websites out there that will tell you about previous ones.

Do you have any special foods and ceremonies in your country that we should know about?

I like making series and connecting my posts together so that they make sense to you the viewer and reader. This is part of my rural Lefkás village series.

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Karia

Best wishes

Angela

Karia and it’s heritage museum

This is a small village well known for its embroidery. It has a style unique to Lefkás invented by a lady called Maria Standraka who was unable to stitch in the normal way due to an acquired disability. She came to be known as a Koutsochero because of that disability. Not to be defeated by this obstacle she came up with the Karsaniko style. There are samples of her work displayed inside for you to admire. Ladies here to this day practice it but it is a dying art I believe due to the age of the practitioners. However it’s being kept alive in the internet age by there being a video on YouTube and images on Pinterest. So all is not lost here just yet.

This is similar to the article that I wrote on Eva Palmer Sikelianos who practised weaving and the art of making all of your own clothes by loom.

I haven’t managed to view this yet but I’ve passed by it many times even eating in the village itself. It is well known for its rugs. The Wikipedia article isn’t very helpful here as it makes no mention of anything I have said in this post. Karia.

Do you have any unique artisanal workmen and women in your cultural history?

I like making series and connecting my posts together so that they make sense to you the viewer and reader. This is the first part of my rural Lefkás village series.

Eglouvi

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

She was born in New York, emigrated to Paris and here she met her future husband Angelos Sikelianos . She then became his wife and moved to Lefkás to live there and learnt weaving of which there are examples of in the museum.

She famously said according to the Angelos Sikelianos museum “I decided that I would never ever wear another thing made by a machine again!” Proceeds to throw a trunk full of couture clothing from Paris out of the train window.

She was also friends with Nikos Kazantzis and George Serefis. Angelos and Eva lived together in a house in the south of Lefkás as well as the one in Lefkás town that houses the museum you see above.

She was responsible along with her husband for the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals but these were to prove the undoing of the couple as the economic cost was too great.

She also helped to revive and prevent the loss of some of the weaving techniques for her clothing. She taught them to Angelos’s second wife Anna Karameni when she was finally able to return to Lefkás just before her death in 1952. Anna lived to be over a 100 dying in 2006.

For some more personal details Eva Palmer Sikelianos.

She is part of my foreigners who helped Greece series:-

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any notable power couples from the past in your country?

Best wishes

Angela