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Culture & Arts

Two Books to Add to Your Springtime Reading List

April 12, 2020

While the lockdown continues, reading is a great way to spend some time and be transported to other worlds or faraway places, even if just for a few hours. Photography books offer a wonderful way to visit distant lands and maybe begin planning your next trip. April is, of course, National Poetry Month, and poems offer insights into the human condition that can help us get through the toughest challenges in life. Add the following two books to your spring reading list.

Mykonos: Portrait of a Vanished Era by Robert A. McCabe with Research Coordination by Ioanna Samiotaki, Sophia Hiniadou Cambanis and Mikis Cambanis is an impressive volume. McCabe’s photographs capture a specific moment in time for the famed Greek island, before the tourists discovered it and transformed Mykonos into one of the top travel destinations in the world. The book allows the viewer to experience the unspoiled beauty and traditional culture of the legendary Greek island, as it was in the late 1950s.

With photographs taken in 1955 and 1957, many for National Geographic magazine, the book recreates a daylong visit to Mykonos in the days before cars, running water, and electricity. The journey begins with disembarking in the Old Harbor and continues along the picturesque streets of Chora (the main town), as the townspeople go about their daily tasks. Also included in the book, a visit to St. Panteleimon Monastery on a festival day, and a trip by caique (a traditional wooden boat) to see the ruins on the neighboring island of Delos.

Robert McCabe was born in Chicago in 1934. He started taking photographs in 1939 with a Kodak Brownie given to him by his father, who published a tabloid newspaper in New York. In 1957, he photographed widely in the Cyclades at the request of the National Geographic magazine, and he continues to photograph in Greece today. His fifteen published books encompass Greece, Cuba, China, Antarctica, and Central Park, and his forthcoming projects include The Last Monk of the Strofades, The Greeks and Their Seas, Santorini Before the Earthquake, Kasos 1965, A Portrait of Patmos, and The Waterways of France. He believes that photography is the perfect medium for what he calls poetic realism.

Titos Patrikios is one of the leading poets of Greece. Born in 1928 to parents who were actors, he spent his first years in the United States as they toured with a Greek theater company. Patrikios returned to Greece, where he eventually studied law at the University of Athens and then philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. He was active in the resistance movement against the German occupation during World War II and was tortured and jailed during the Greek civil war that followed.

The Lions’ Gate: Selected Poems of Titos Patrikios translated by Christopher Bakken and Roula Konsolaki features a fine collection of Patrikios’ exceptional poems. As reported on the PBS NewsHour website, “According to Patrikios, poetry should have three main qualities: to bring people together, to help readers discover something new about themselves and to address and provide answers to problems that have gone unnoticed.”

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