New York’s Greek Community Honors Its Poetic Heritage
On July 15, a special visit by the POEMobile, projections of poems on the side of the Hell Gate Bridge, and performances of poetry and music will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Greece’s Nobel Laureate Odysseas Elytis. New York’s Greek-American poetry community will honor its cultural heritage with SING IN ME, O MUSE!, a performance of poetry, music and dance at the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Stathakion Center located at 22-51 29th St., Astoria, on July 15, 8 p.m., sponsored by Bowery Arts + Science, City Lore, and the Federation.
Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry Editor Dean Kostos, Yale Younger Poets Award winner Nicholas Samaras, Penelope Karageorge and Sylvia Mouzourou will read their poems on the subjects of love, longing, homeland and exile accompanied by building-sized projections of text from their poems. The poems will be projected from the roof of the POEMobile, a hand-painted truck and traveling cinema of words, onto the exterior of the Federation’s headquarters in Astoria and the Hell Gate Bridge. Additional projections will include the poems of Elytis himself as well as Sappho, Aeschylus, Ritsos, and Cavafy, accompanied by traditional music by the Greek Folk Ensemble. The Greek-American Folklore Society will perform two sets of dances, one from the mainland and one from the islands. Poetry will be in classical and modern Greek, with the projections morphing into English translations.
This performance is one in a series of poetry events composing A White Wing Brushing the Building, a Bowery Arts + Science and City Lore project highlighting the poetry of New York City’s ethnic communities and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cultural Innovation Grant. The project will focus on the poetry of eight cultural communities in New York in 2011 and eight more in 2012, with the majority of the events happening during the summer. The phrase “white wing” is taken from a poem by Martín Espada and refers to the projections of the poems that are an integral part of the project as well as the live poetry readings which will happen in each of the communities. To date, White Wing has hosted projections and poetry performances in the languages of the Lower East Side: Yiddish, Ukrainian, Spanish, and Cantonese at the New Museum’s Festival of New Ideas and new work by Native American poets at the American Indian Community House. Additional 2011 collaborating communities include Haitian, Mexican, Garifuna, and Nuyorican. The events will be stand-alone programs but unified by the common element of the poetry projections, which will permeate the city’s neighborhoods—its storefronts, basketball courts, warehouse walls—from the POEMobile.
For more information, visit www.citylore.org and www.hellenicsocieties.org, or call 212-529-1955 x 308