NEW YORK – The East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) presented the 1821: Revolution and Poetry in Motion Panel Discussion on June 27 on YouTube. The panel discussion was in Association with AHEPA’s Hellenic Cultural Commission and was introduced and moderated by Lou Katsos, EMBCA's President/Founder and Chairman of AHEPA’s Hellenic Cultural Commission.
The distinguished panel included author/poet Nicholas Alexiou, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Hellenic American Project at Queens College; poet/essayist/prose writer/translator and twice President of the Hellenic Authors’ Society Yiorgos Chouliaras; and author/ translator/materials scientist Andeas Melas, the former President of Hellenic Link- Midwest.
The event focused on the Hellenic Revolution of 1821 and the poetry related to it. Prof. Alexiou’s presentation, titled “The Greek Revolution and America Philhellenic Poetry” included the poetry of James Gates Percival, William Cullen Bryant, and Lydia Huntley Sigourney. Alexiou began by discussing Romanticism. The Romantic Era lasted from the late 18th century to about 1850. Lord Byron and his role in the Revolution was also discussed.
Chouliaras’ presentation, “Greece, Poetry, Revolution” highlighted, among other poets, the “double-headed eagle” of modern Greek poetry, Solomos and Byron. He noted that “Modern Greece is an outcome of poetry,” adding that, “poetry has been historically very significant in Greece if we simply consider that it was through Homer, through The Iliad and The Odyssey, that Greeks came together as they were separately organized, separate city-states, and it was in fact Aristotle’s student Alexander [the Great] who always carried Homer with him in his campaigns.” Chouliaras also quoted the line from Byron on the site of the ancient Battle of Marathon, “I dreamt that Greece might still be free.”
Melas discussed the poem “The 9th of July 1821” by Vasilis Michaelides, considered the national poet of Cyprus. Melas has translated Michaelides poem from the original Cypriot dialect to English, publishing the work as Slaughter Us All and Make Our Blood a River. He noted that Cypriots volunteered and fought for Greece from the time of Rigas Feraios to the present day. Melas also spoke about Michaelides’ life and the history of Cyprus.
In his introduction, Katsos said: “Poetry, a word from the Ancient Hellenic ποίησις/ poiesis, meant in philosophy ‘the activity in which a person brings something that did not exist before’ and etymologically deriving from the Hellenic term ποιεῖν/ ‘to make’ has a long history in the Hellenic world and played a very important and pivotal role in the Hellenic Revolution and Independence both domestically and abroad. This genre was used to explore and disseminate new political ideas in a period of Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Revolution. In many ways poetry and Revolution are intertwined historically and certainly in the Hellenic Revolution.”
The event was part of EMBCA’s American Hellenic Revolution of 1821 Bicentennial Committee series, focusing not only on the Revolution but also importantly on the American, Diaspora and International aspects and influences of the Revolution.
Video of the discussion is available online: