Scholars' Association News
Issue 29
February 2014


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Cavafy Tribute

In light of the 150th anniversary of C.P. Cavafy’s birth, the Town Hall NYC hosted a major tribute attracting an impressive line-up of academics, literature enthusiasts and expatriates. Ten prominent figures from the arts, including writers, actors and translators, presented the tribute which took place on November 18, 2013, with joint sponsorship from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Onassis Affiliated Public Benefit Foundation in New York and the PEN American Center.

The event commenced with a recorded recitation of Ithaca by Sir Sean Connery, set to music by award-wining composer Vangelis Papathanasiou against a cleverly designed backdrop of the famous Corniche waterfront promenade in Alexandria. The concept of the tribute was the inspiration of Daniel Mendelsohn, classicist, author, essayist and translator of Cavafy’s works, and Laszlo Jakab Orsos, director of the PEN American Center World Voices Festival.

Daniel Mendelsohn presented “A Poet Transformed”; Edmund Keeley elaborated on “Rendering the Poet’s Vision”; Michael Cunningham, writer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction presented “Cavafy Before He Was Cavafy”; actor Harris Kremmidas recited “Longings” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn; Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate presented “Poet on the Periphery”; writer André Aciman from Alexandria talked about “Αlexandria Irrealis”, a utopian Alexandria; award-wining poet and memoirist Mark Doty gave a speech entitled “Βlood of Love” in which he elaborated on the similarities between the approach of Cavafy and Proust to the subject of lost time;

Craig Dykers, architect of the Library of Alexandria and member of the Snøhetta international architectural firm presented his firm’s concept, structure and design of the Great Library of Alexandria; actress Kathleen Turner read “Lovely White Flowers” translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, and the “Mirror in the Entrance” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn; actress Olympia Dukakis of Greek and American nationality recited “The City” and “The God Abandons Antony”; Harris Kremmidas recited “Days of 1908” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn. The tribute also featured a recorded excerpt from “Impossible Things” by composer Nico Muhly and a video screening from the performance K.K., directed by Dimitris Papaioannou in 2010 for 13 Cavafy poems set to music by Lena Platonos. The night ended with Dimitris Papaioannou and Michaliis Theofanous performing the finale of Papaioannou’s renowned performance Primal Matter.

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