Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Poetry by Early Ethnic and Diaspora
Writers of Greek America
Funded by the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, the visiting
fellowship awarded to me by the Friends of the Princeton University Library
made possible a one-month stay, during which my primary focus of research
was the Andonis Decavalles collection (housed in the Department of Rare
Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library).
Dekavalles is considered one of the most important
contemporary poets of the Greek diaspora. Reading, first-hand, the numerous
and often personal letters Decavalles exchanged with such notable figures
as Kimon Friar, offered me an invaluable and illuminating view of the
writer's personality, way of thinking, aspirations, dreams, as well as
disappointments throughout his career as a writer and teacher. As a scholar
of his work, I found Decavalles's archives impressively rich and unique.
Included with the correspondence to various Greek and American writers
and friends, were unpublished poems, essays, reviews of other Greek writers'
work, and reviews of his own work by both Greek and American critics.
Access to this rich wealth of primary source
material offered me a unique opportunity to better understand and contextualize
Decavalles's life-long passionate and tireless devotion to the promotion
of modern Greek literature in America. Regarding his own success with
utmost humility, Decavalles seems happiest when he feels that he made
Greek literature known to the Greek diaspora in America as well as to
American readers, in general. The study of Decavalles's collection is
important not only to Decavalles scholars but to any scholar of Greek
American literature. The collection offers a vivid portrait of Greek
writers and scholars in America throughout the twentieth century up to
the present day, working to establish themselves as legitimate purveyors
of Greek culture, while demonstrating their determination to keep their
ethnic and cultural ties with their pre-migratory home alive.
Decavalles is a paradigmatic example of a
writer who has dedicated his entire life to the active participation in
and the production of literature on both sides of the Atlantic. I will
be publishing the following article (which started as a chapter in my
doctoral dissertation and has now been informed by my Decavalles research
at Princeton University Library): "A Cosmopolitan Exile's Nostos: Modernity,
Memory, and Myth in Andonis Decavalles's Poetry" in the Journal of
the Hellenic Diaspora (spring 2003). In the near future, I also hope
to publish an article in the Princeton University Library Chronicle
where I can refer in greater length to my research at Princeton.
In addition to researching the Decavalles
collection, I utilized the wealth of other resources and archives found
in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. I read and collected
material-rare or unavailable in Greece-including translations, reviews,
letters, and literary works by and about other ethnic and diaspora writers
of Greek America, such as Aristides Phoutrides, Byron Vazakas, Dinos Siotis,
Nikos Spanias, and Nicholas Kalas. I also gathered information by and
about Greek literature scholars in America, such as Kimon Friar and Edmund
Keeley. Finally, I read with great excitement issues of the magazines
Athene and Greek Heritage, as well as the newspaper
My research in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (as
well as the main library) has helped my continuing study of Greek American
literature and culture become a more complete project. As a direct outcome
of this work, I plan to write a book-length critical analysis of Greek
American poetry from the beginning of Greek immigration to America to
the present day. I intend to acknowledge fully the invaluable fellowship
the Friends of the Princeton University Library offered me.
It is my strong belief that the study of any
aspect, period, or form of Greek American literature and culture would
not be complete, thoroughly researched, or well-informed without consulting
the special collections and manuscripts at Princeton University Library.
Therefore, I would like to extent my deepest gratitude to Dimitri Gondicas
and the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University for funding
my fellowship, John Delaney for his assistance, and all the friendly and
warm staff at the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections for
always being helpful and ready to answer all my queries and assist me
in any way. My experience at Princeton was extremely rewarding, intellectually
rich, and unique in its scholarly scope and research results.