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Odysseas Elytis:

One hundred years after the birth of Odysseas Elytis, the Regional Authority of Crete, the Municipality of Heraklion and the Society of Cretan Historical Studies present an original, composite tribute to the poet in Heraklion, the town of his birth.

Wednesday 29th June saw the inauguration of an exhibition entitled Odysseas Elytis: “See that it’s printed exactly like that” at the Historical Museum of Crete.

The exhibition includes original material (manuscripts, drawings, collages and photographs) from the archive held by Dimitris Kalokyris; scanned and original artworks created together with Eleni Kalokyri; books, newspaper cuttings etc. On the one hand the exhibition records the poet’s oeuvre and biography, interspersed by authentic documentary evidence (first editions, photographs), while on the other it describes the poet’s relationship with the owner of the collection and their common journey to the press.

The exhibition combines original material with advanced technology ranging from digital prints to multimedia.

Like all exhibitions at the Historical Museum of Crete, intensive use will be made of the material for educational programmes offered free of charge to various age groups in the general public, and most especially for pupils in the 2011-2012 school year.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Mayor of Heraklion Yannis Kourakis on Wednesday 29th June 2011, and will stay open until Saturday 2nd June 2012 (prolonged until the 5th of November 2012).

Dimitris Kalokyris’ collection will remain at the museum thereafter, with a view to being used in a permanent exhibition in the future.

  • Together with the exhibition opening ceremony and tying in with it is a newly released, handsome, sensitive book by Dimitris Kalokyris, entitled “Either in colour or not”. Published by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies, it is a collection of essays on the poet. The first was written on the occasion of the exhibition at the Historical Museum, and retraces thirty years of friendship and collaboration between Dimitris Kalokyris and Odysseas Elytis. Subsequent chapters are made up of penetrating attempts to read the poetry of Elytis; though at times iconoclastic, all are written with the warmth of a writer and literary scholar, a fellow craftsman and studier who is himself devoted to poetry. Drawing on rare photographs and decorations, illustration in the book bears all the inventiveness of the leading graphic designer that Dimitris Kalokyris also is.
  • Full of zest, the Heraklion Municipal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Leonidas Tzortzakis took part in the exhibition opening cememony, alternating between well-known settings of Elytis’ poetry by Theodorakis and Hadjidakis and jazz pieces.
  • While visitors toured the exhibition, three hitherto unobserved actors (Kostas Metaxakis, Rania Plataki and Katerina Zouridi) surprised the public by holding a performance based on texts from The Monogram, Maria Nephele and The Oxopetra Elegies. The actors struck up a dialogue without establishing visual contact (in three different rooms). During the performance they met up in front of the “Apocalypse Apse”, and ended by scattering once more in different directions inside the museum.
  • On Friday 1st July the Historical Museum stayed open from 7:00 to 10:00pm for an “Evening with Elytis” where visitors could freely tour the exhibition, while at 8:00pm the Heraklion Municipal Youth and Children’s Choir under Katerina Tzangaraki gathered in the museum garden to present a programme of songs by Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis and others, to poetry by Odysseas Elytis. The Children’s Choir was accompanied on the piano by Yorgos Kaloutsis.
  • In November 2011 an academic conference entitled “Elytis’ Influences” will be held in Heraklion, involving participation by the leading scholars of his work. During the conference, on Saturday 12th November Yorgos Kouroupos will give an admission-free concert in the Basilica of St. Mark. The conference will also be accompanied by a photography exhibition held in collaboration with the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation, showing Elytis photographed at various stages in his life by Mario Vitti, his friend and leading professor of Modern Greek. He too will be taking part in the conference, coming to Crete on the organizers’ invitation.

For the entire duration of the events, banners marking celebrations for the poet will be hung at central locations in the city of Heraklion. Starting from the exhibition opening ceremony at the Historical Museum of Crete, Heraklion municipal music ensembles are taking part in the events. From autumn 2011 onwards street events will also be held, with the same goal in mind – to get as many people of all ages as possible involved, participating in poetry and, ultimately, spreading a message of optimism.