UK professors talk on Greek poets in London and Athens

There is heightened interest in the poetry of C.P. Cavafy, sparked by the publication of historian Evangelos Sachperoglou’s book, with his translations of 154 poems by the Alexandrian poet. A bilingual edition, it has the poems in Greek and English on facing pages. Sachperoglou has taken care to render Cavafy’s style and meter in his accurate translations. The book is being launched on October 25 at the British School in Athens. Professor Roderick Beaton, who holds the Koraes Chair at King’s College London, will speak about Cavafy, his poetry and the approach to translating it. The following is an excerpt of what he plans to say: «Not the least among the excellences of this new volume is the fact that it includes Cavafy’s original facing the translation of each poem. It is the only translation now in print which does so, and for this alone we owe Evangelos Sachperoglou a great debt. It is this seemingly impossible task, I like to think, that Evangelos Sachperoglou has triumphantly completed for us today with these translations. It is right to claim that we hear the voice of Cavafy speaking to us in English.» Professor Beaton will be presenting his highly regarded biography of George Seferis, «Seferis: Waiting for the Angel.» Professor Peter Mackridge, from the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and Literature at Oxford University, will be presenting «Voices of Cavafy» at the Hellenic Cultural Center of London on November 19. Actress Aria Sandis will read his poems in Greek, accompanied by live and recorded music, with Elena Constantinou at the piano. Mackridge will deliver his introduction and commentary in his fluent Greek, using Sachperoglou’s book for any non-Greek speakers in the audience. Yet another approach to the work of Cavafy, a musical one this time, is scheduled for January 19, 2004. In an initiative by Egyptian Ambassador Magda Shahin, poems by Cavafy, set to music by Leo Cottakis, will be read in Greek and English from the same bilingual volume. As the poet himself said in his poem «Voices:» «And with their sound, for an instant, they return / sounds from the early poetry of our life / like music in the night faraway, that fades.»