CULTURE

State awards literature prizes

When Kathimerini called poet Nikos Fokas a few days ago and informed him that he had been awarded the Grand State Prize for Literature for 2005 for his overall oeuvre, all he could say was: «Thank you. I was not expecting it.» He was too moved to say any more. The State Prize Committee convened last week, right on schedule and awarded the following prizes: The poetry award went to Nassos Vagenas, a frequent nominee with an impressive list of publications, in a majority vote for the collection «Stephanos,» published by Kedros. Manos Eleftheriou’s «O kairos ton chrysanthemon» (The Age of Chrysanthemums), by Metaichmio Publications, won the best novel prize by a landslide. Essentially the first novel for the writer, who has been nominated frequently for numerous awards, its story is set in 19th century Ermoupolis, the capital of the island of Syros. The short-story award was given to Rhea Galanaki for the collection «Ekeino to galazio heri» (That Blue Hand) by Kastaniotis, while Maria Kakavoula, a university professor and the only nominee after Fokas to receive every vote from the jury, walked away with a prize for her essay «Figures and Words in the Work of Eleni Vakalo,» published by Nefeli. The final prize, for a chronicle of testimonial, went to Dimitris Hadzisocratis for «Polytechnic ’73,» published by Polis. No surprises The award winners come as no surprise this year, since the short list published earlier by the committee clearly showed which way the jury would be swinging. Nikos Fokas was nominated for the poetry prize as well. His securing of the Grand Prize was not unexpected, since he has enjoyed many literary nominations over the course of his career. Fokas was born in 1927 on the Ionian island of Cephalonia. He has been equally productive and successful as a poet, essayist and translator, having translated significant works by writers such as Prosper Merime, Thomas de Quincey, Charles Beaudelaire, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost and many others. Archaeology, BBC He studied history and archaeology at Athens University and also worked for many years at the Greek Service of the BBC and at the Greek state broadcasting company. His most recent publication, by Hestia, is the poetry collection «Free Step.»