18 NOVEMBER 2013 / The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Supports PEN American Center’s Tribute to C. P. Cavafy in New York

PEN American Center will present a tribute to C. P. Cavafy to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth on Monday, November 18 at New York City’s Town Hall. The theatrical evening will combine performances, personal and scholarly reflections, onstage interviews, ”live translations,” and musical numbers that will bring his work to life for contemporary audiences. The event is made possible through a sponsorship from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, in conjunction with the Onassis Foundation (USA) and PEN American Center.

“One hundred and fifty years after his birth, C.P. Cavafy remains one of our greatest but also most mysterious modern poets,” said Stelios Vasilakis, Senior Program Officer and Co-Chief Public Affairs at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “His name is known to many, and so are couple of his greatest poems, but the vast body of his work is only known to few. PEN American Center’s Tribute is a big step towards introducing the work of the eminent Alexandrian to a larger audience.” 

Considered one of the most original and influential Greek poets of the 20th century, Cavafy has been widely admired for his contemporary use of language, charged with irony, homoeroticism, longing, and deep reflections on history and philosophy. The 90-minute presentation, segmented into 10 distinct elements, will reflect Cavafy’s life, work and legacy. 

The evening’s concept was developed by Daniel Mendelsohn and László Jakab Orsós (director of PEN’s World Voices Festival), and will be directed by Rachel Chavkin (director of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.)

Featured participants include Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, writers Daniel Mendelsohn and Edmund Keeley (both scholars and translators of Cavafy), architect Craig Dykers (of Snøhetta, the architects who recently designed The Royal Library of Alexandria) and Greek choreographer/stage director Dimitris Papaioannou, who directed the Athens Olympics opening/closing ceremonies, poet Mark Doty, writers Michael Cunningham and André Aciman and actress Kathleen Turner, among others. 

The event will also include David Hockney's illustrations based on poems by Cavafy and considered some of the artist's most accomplished line drawings, as well as a short video based on Cavafy's signature poems.

The Cavafy tribute will be the first in the re-launched PEN American Center Tribute series. The next tribute will take place during the 2014 World Voices Festival from Monday, April 28th through Sunday, May 4,2014. For more information, please visit: pentributeseries.org.

“PEN American Center will revive our beloved tribute series this November with great enthusiasm and reverence,” said Suzanne Nossel, the Executive Director.  “It is particularly rewarding to us that the first event of this new phase of the series honors C.P. Cavafy, a Greek poet, whose work so elegantly expresses all of PEN’s core missions: the celebration of creativity, the power of the written word, and freedom of expression.”