Celebrating a centenary

The publication of the first poetry collection by Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) in 1938 caused a scandal. The Greek public was not familiar with the surrealist style of his poetry and it was actually not until the famous poem «Bolivar» was written in 1942-43 that his work gained broader recognition. Excerpts ranging from those first negative and conservative criticisms on Engonopoulos’s work to the laudatory comments that quickly followed are included in a publication released by the National Book Center to commemorate the centenary of the poet’s birth. What is distinctive about the book is that it looks at the work of Engonopoulos through the eyes of other poets and artists. Odysseas Elytis, Miltos Sachtouris, Ektor Kaknanatos and Andreas Embeirikos are among the poets whose writings on Engonopoulos are included. In parts, those texts also portray the character and temperament of Engonopoulos. Interestingly, the book also includes writings by Engonopoulos on poets whose work he admired. In that particular chapter, one reads of the great admiration that the poet had for Dionysios Solomos, his friend Embeirikos, the work of Angelos Sikelianos and Constantine Cavafy. The book presents the work of Engonopoulos both as a poet and a painter. Many of his poems are reprinted here, while reproductions of the artist’s surrealist-inspired paintings adorn the pages of the publication. As a painter, Engonopolos believed Giorgio de Chirico to be one of his greatest mentors. The work of Paul Klee was another great influence. Like de Chirico, Engonopoulos painted themes taken from Greek mythology. This is one of the reasons that his work is also said to have a certain «Greekness.» Critical appraisals of his paintings as well as his work for set design comprise an entire chapter. The book opens with an extended chronology illustrated with photographs of Engonopoulos. A select bibliography is included at the end of this well-rounded, centennial publication.