LIFE

Poet Nanos Valaoritis, 98, dies

TAGS: Obituary, Literature

The prolific and esteemed Greek poet, novelist, playwright and translator Nanos Valaoritis has died, according to an announcement on his Facebook page. He was 98 years old, and “lived a life full of riches,” fellow poet Dinos Siotis said in a Facebook post.

Valaoritis was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1921 and studied law and literature in Athens, London and Paris, going on to live in all three cities for large parts of his life.

While in London, from 1944 to 1953, Valaoritis played an instrumental role in poetry Laureate George Seferis' international success by translating his work, along with that of other celebrated Greek poets from the 1930s Generation, like Odysseas Elytis, Nikos Engonopoulos, Andreas Emebirikos and Nikos Gatsios. During that time, he also met T.S. Elliott, W.H. Auden and Dylan Thomas, among other famous writers.

He spent 1954 to 1960 in Paris, joining the surrealist circle of Andre Breton, before returning to Greece for a few years during which he ran the magazine “Pali.”

The next chapter of his life took him to the United States, where he taught comparative literature and creative writing at San Francisco State University from 1968 to 1993 and was awarded by the national Poetry Association in 1996.

He returned to Greece in 2004, where he has been honored by the Academy of Athens and by the Greek president with the Golden Cross of the Order of Honor, also receiving numerous literary prizes.

Valaoritis also produced a remarkable and prolific body of work, including essays, translations, anthologies, poetry, short stories, a novella and four novels, writing in Greek, English and French. 

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