When it comes to Greek poets, almost every single person knows Constantine P. Cavafy. His iconic poem “Ithaca”, for example, is globally known and admired, having been translated not only into English but into many other languages.
But what if someone who speaks only English wants to study some of the countless poems of dozens of Greek poets whose work has so greatly enriched modern Greek literature?
This is a problem that Emmanuel (Manolis) Aligizakis decided to solve.
Aligizakis is a distinguished Greek-Canadian author, poet and translator whose poems have been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, Portuguese, German, Hungarian, Urdu and Punjabi.
Born in the town of Kolymbari near Crete’s Chania in 1947, he studied Political Science in Greece and after his military service emigrated to Vancouver, Canada.
His writing career, however, began at 11 years of age, with the epic–romantic poem “Erotokritos” which was published in a limited run of 100 copies — each one of which was sold to rare-books collectors for more than 5,000 Canadian dollars.
During his long journey in the world of literature, Aligizakis has published more than 20 books of poetry, three novels, and eleven major translation works.
Among his awards and distinctions are: the 1st place Poetry Prize in the Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Romania’s Craiova in 2017; being shortlisted for the translation of George Seferis-Collected Poems, in 2013 by the Greek National Literary Awards, and many more.
His most recent task however, and a difficult and massive one at that, was to create an anthology of modern Greek poets, that would open the door for English-speaking readers to the work of many highly respected Greek poets whose work had not been translated into English.
Neo-Hellene Poets: An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018 is a skeleton key to the poems of 60 Greek modern writers whose work deserves a wider readership, according to Aligizakis.
This is the reason why this Greek-Canadian author took on the huge challenge on which he labored over 3 years — to finally make accessible the modern Greek poets who had remained largely out of reach for the English-speaking world.