Manolis Anagnostakis

Manolis Anagnostakis (10 March 1925 – 23 June 2005) was a Greek poet and critic at the forefront of the Marxist and existentialist poetry movements arising during and after the Greek Civil War in the late 1940s. Anagnostakis was a leader amongst his contemporaries and influenced the generation of poets immediately after him. His poems have been honored in Greece’s national awards and arranged and sung by contemporary musicians.

Anagnostakis was born in Thessaloniki and trained as a doctor, specializing in radiology. During the chaotic period of 1944, Anagnostakis served as the Editor-in-Chief of Xekinema (The Start), a student magazine. His first book of poetry, Epoches (Seasons) was published in 1945. His left-wing sympathies had inspired him to join the Resistance, which would lead to his being sentenced to death by a military court during the Civil War. Arrested for his involvement with the Student Movement at the University of Thessaloniki in 1948, Anagnostakis spent several years in Eptapyrgion, a state prison. His second volume, Epoches 2 was published after he was imprisoned in 1948. In the next year, Anagnostakis was both expelled from the Communist Party of Greece and tried in court. He received a death sentence, but outsurvived the regime. Upon his release in 1951, he published the last book in the cycle.

Anagnostakis began a new cycle of work with his Synecheia (The Continuation), in 1954, and its sequel in 1955. A collection of his works was published the next year. The poet spent 1955 and the next year in Vienna, continuing his medical studies in radiology, before returning to Greece. He spent 1959 through 1961 as editor of Criticism, a journal of literary criticism, and finished his Continuation cycle in 1962. While he did not publish any more major works until 1971’s The Poems, he continued to contribute to newspapers and magazines.

Although his 1971 collection represented the end of the published works he was best known for, his existentialism-influenced verse left its mark on a younger generation of Greek poets. This influence is in part owing to his poetry having been set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, as part of his Ballades cycle, written during the seven-year Regime of the Colonels. The Ballades have been performed by vocalist Margarita Zorbala (recorded on her 1975 debut album), amongst others. Anagnostakis moved his practice and family to Athens in 1978.

Lakis Papastathis produced a 52-minute film, Manolis Anagnostakis, on Anagnostakis’ life, for the Greek television series Paraskenio in 1983. Two volumes of Anagnostakis’, another collection and O piitis Manussos Fassis, (The Poet Manussos Fassis) were issued in the following four years.

He died June 23, 2005 in Athens.

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