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Culture

Memoirs, Poetry to Add to Your April Reading List

April 2, 2018

Spring is a wonderful time to catch up on your reading, especially since the longer days mean you can read by more natural light, and if the weather cooperates, you can even take your reading outdoors. Take an umbrella along just in case an April shower passes through to bring May flowers. Here are a few books to add to your reading list.

In honor of Theodoros Kolokotronis, whose birthday is April 3, and the recent celebration of Greek Independence Day on March 25th, add his Memoirs from the Greek War of Independence 1821-1833 and The Old Man of Morea: An Autobiography to your reading list. He learned to write later in life so he could write his memoirs and they remain popular to the present day in Greece and have been translated into English many times over the years. The 1892 English translation by Mrs. Elizabeth Mayhew Edmonds, entitled “Kolokotrones the Klepht and the Warrior: Sixty Years of Peril and Daring: An Autobiography, is available online. The Trial of Kolokotronis and Plapoutas by Dimitris Fotiadis is also a fascinating read. The book includes the trial transcripts and other historical documents that bring the time period and the courtroom drama to life.

April also happens to be National Poetry Month, so consider adding some verse to your list. The celebration of poetry was introduced in 1996, organized by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. Canada adopted the celebration as well in 1998.

The Scattered Papers of Penelope by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, a winner of the Greek National Prize for Poetry and the Greek Academy’s Poetry Prize is the first full retrospective collection of the poet’s work available in English. The book draws on the rich traditions of Greek myth, history, and art. Translated from the Greek by a selection of noted scholars, including the book’s editor Karen Van Dyck, Anghelaki-Rooke’s poetry is powerful. Greek history and myth are re-examined, while prose poems tackle themes including modern violence and dictatorship. Lyric descriptions of domestic life on the poet’s home island of Aegina are also featured among the poems in the collection.

Greek-American Sofia Baktidy, wrote her debut poetry collection at age 16. She notes in her book’s description that poetry as her chosen form of expression “is a way for her to try and understand the things taking place around her.” The book is entitled Through the Eyes of a Teen and includes her poems with a prose explanation of the context for each one. Among the poems in the collection, The Dream deals with current events, conflict and human suffering, while Ode to a Passing Day touches on the intersection between a workday and World War I. The book is available online.

With the Onassis Cultural Center New York presenting Birds: A Festival Inspired by Aristophanes this spring, it might be a good time to brush up on the comedies of the ancient playwright beginning, of course with The Birds. The play is perhaps not as well-known as Aristophanes’ Lysistrata which is revived onstage often in various forms and adaptations. The Complete Plays of Aristophanes are available online and at your local library. The Birds by Aristophanes, directed by Nikos Karathanos, opens on May 2 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn as part of the Onassis Cultural Center New York Spring Festival.

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