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Literature

Books in Honor of Greek-American Poet Dean Kostos

November 20, 2022

The news of the passing of award-winning Greek-American poet Dean Kostos saddened not only family and friends, but many community members who fondly recalled attending his poetry readings with the Greek-American Writers’ Association at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Besides his dynamic poetry, Kostos wrote a powerful memoir chronicling his struggles with being bullied and suffering with mental illness. Overcoming a great deal in his life, he became an educator, artist, and author, inspiring many with his works. Add the following books to your reading list in honor of Kostos, may his memory be eternal.

Among his poetry collections, Last Supper of the Senses was published in 2005 and dedicated to his mother Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos, a Greek-American artist and advocate for the recognition of the Hellenic genocide, who also wrote poetry, some of which appeared in Pomegranate Seeds, an Anthology of Greek-American Poetry, published by Somerset Hall Press and edited by Dean Kostos. The anthology includes poems in English by 49 prominent Greek-American poets from throughout the United States. Nicholas Gage, best-selling author of Eleni, praised the collection, noting that ”Pomegranate Seeds is a rich and evocative mosaic in verse of the Greek-American experience that has much to offer not only Greeks and Americans but every traveler in that mysterious and tumultuous voyage called life.”

Broken Color by Dean Kostos. (Photo: Amazon)

His poetry collection titled This Is Not A Skyscraper received the 2013 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award. Rivering, The Sentence That Ends With a Comma, and Celestial Rust also feature Kostos’ impressive poetry.

Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Tricks of Light, said that in Kostos’ Broken Color: “Dean Kostos takes his cue from the Impressionists, who placed colors onto canvas with discrete brushstrokes. The result is a poetic voice that brings memories and perceptions to the surface in statements rich with color and texture. Kostos uses his painterly sensibility to cover topics such as a difficult childhood, and he brings us along on his more recent travels to seek out influential works of art. He vividly describes American, European and Japanese pieces, and brings them to light, as well as to life. We emerge more complete to have taken these journeys with him.”

Last Supper of the Senses by Dean Kostos. (Photo: Amazon)

Kostos’ The Boy who Listened to Paintings was published in 2019 by Spuyten Duyvil Publishing and offers Kostos’ insights into his life while shining a light on mental illness. According to the book’s description, “bullied to the brink of suicide, Dean Kostos spent two years in the mental hospital where his mother had stayed. While The Boy Who Listened To Paintings addresses mental illness in adolescents, in many of its most drastic guises, it also celebrates the transformative power of art, and stresses that in the formation of our multi-faceted characters, it is perhaps the darkest and longest travails, treated with both candor and humor in this memoir, that most enduringly shape us.” Molly Peacock, author of Paradise, Piece by Piece, said of Kostos and his memoir: “He manages to survive… thanks to a slow realization that art itself is health. Riveting – and outraging – The Boy Who Listened to Paintings is a warmly brilliant memoir of adolescence and mental health to inspire all of us.”

Pomegranate Seeds, an Anthology of Greek-American Poetry, published by Somerset Hall Press and edited by Dean Kostos. (Photo: Amazon)

In an interview with Lambda Literary in March of 2020, Kostos said: “While I do think adults will relate to my memoir, I also hope that young adults and teens will respond to the book. According to the CDC, the epidemic of teen suicide has risen. I hope I can reach those kids and that this book can save lives.”

Dean Kostos’ books are available online and in bookstores.

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