Stratis Haviaras Bio – Wiki
Stratis Haviaras was a bilingual writer of literary works in English and Greek, known in the U.S. for his novels When the Tree Sings (shortlisted for the Natiοnal Book Award and named an ALA Notable Book), and The Heroic Age. Both were critically acclaimed in the American press and were translated into many languages. He also founded and edited the literary journals Arion’s Dolphin, Erato and Harvard Review.
Haviaras was born on 28 June 1935. He died on 4 March 2020.
Haviaras’s parents were refugees from Asia Minor who settled in Nea Kios (Argos) when it founded in 1927. As a child, he experienced the horrors of World War II. When he was 9, the Nazis executed his father, Christos, for his participation in the resistance, while his mother, Georgia Hatzikyriakos, was sent to a concentration camp in Germany.
Subsequently, the family house demolished by the occupying forces. After finishing grammar school, Haviaras started working in the construction trades. In battling the twin obstacles of Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia, his love for writing found ways to persevere. He began to write poems and plays at age 13.
A milestone in his engagement with the literary world was his acquaintance, starting in 1957, with Kimon Friar, a distinguished translator into English of The Odyssey: a Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis, whom he met in Athens. Recognizing Haviaras’s passion for literature and writing, Friar invited him to travel to the United States to assist him in the translation of Kazantzakis’s Salvatores Dei: Spiritual exercises, and reading of essays on US arts over The Voice of America radio, and in the typing of archival material.
Through Friar, Haviaras met Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, among others. During his stay in the U.S., he also studied mechanical drawing at the Manhattan Technological Institute in New York, and machine design at the Jefferson School of Commerce in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he lived with relatives, working in the evenings in a Greek restaurant. At the University of Virginia, he met William Faulkner and worked with the young writer Richard Fariña, three years before his death.
Stratis Haviaras first appeared in the Greek letters with the dramatic monologue “The Rusty Nail” (Kainouria Epochi, Summer 1959), later performed in The Actors Studio in New York. Upon his return to Greece in April 1961, he found work in the US Airbase in Athens.
That same year he met the author, Katerina Plassara, with whom he traveled to France, Germany, and Scandinavia, writing plays. In 1963 he published his first collection of poems, Η κυρία με την πυξίδα (Lady with a Compass) and for the next few years, he worked as a supervising engineer in the construction of the Achelous River hydroelectric dam. His second book of poetry, Βερολίνο (Berlin), published in 1965.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Haviaras worked as a clerk at Harvard’s Widener Library and joined The Committee for the Restoration of the Democratic Government in Greece, founded by members of the academic community. Soon he became editor and one of the speakers of its Sunday program, The Voice of Greece, broadcasting over WILD Radio Boston against the military dictatorship in Greece.
Following a complaint by “Twenty Greek-American businessmen,” the Federal Communications Commission imposed the submission of translated texts from Greek to English and vice versa 96 hours before broadcasting, in essence silencing the program. The Committee continued its activities with Eleutheria, a monthly publication.
1973 was a landmark year for his literary career. He began writing in English, and many of his poems appeared in literary journals such as Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Dickinson Review, and Kayak. In 1976 his first poetry collection in English, Crossing the River Twice published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.
In 1979, Simon & Schuster published his novels When the Tree Sings and in 1984, The Heroic Age.
Haviaras retired from the library at Harvard in the year 2000 but continued to teach in the Summer Program until 2008, completing 40 years of service, when he took up permanent residence in Athens.
As a writer, he returned to the Greek language with AXNA, a novel (Kedros, 2014) and the teaching of creative writing at the European Center for the Translation of Literature (EKEMEL), of which he was President in 2000, and the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI).
in the autumn of 1966 Haviaras found work as a draftsman in The Architects Collaborative (TAC), founded by Walter Gropius. There he met the architect Gail Flynn, whom he married in 1967. That year he moved with her to the United States.
Greek-born poet and author Stratis Stratis Haviaras died aged 85 in the United States, where he had lived and taught for over 40 years. His funeral will be held at his home town in Nea Kios, near Nafplio in the Peloponnese.