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Kimon FriarKIMON FRIAR (Ottoman Empire, İmralı 1911-1993 / act: USA & Greece)

Kimon Friar was born during the Ottoman Empire in 1911 at İmralı, a small Turkish island located in the south of the Sea of Marmara, to an American father and a Greek mother. He was brought to the United States in 1915 and naturalized in 1920. As a child Friar had problems with the English language, and so focused all his energy on art. He discovered poetry at a young age, and, as teenager, became interested in drama. After reading Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats (1795-1821), Friar became fascinated with the energy of the English language and determined to master it.

Friar was educated at a number of institutions, including the Chicago Art Institute, the Yale School of Drama, the University of Iowa, and University of Wisconsin where he received his bachelor's degree with honors in 1935. He went on to University of Michigan for his master's degree in 1940, and he won the Avery Hopwood Major Award for Yeats: A Vision (1940).

Although dedicated to writing and translating poetry, Friar began teaching to support himself soon after leaving the University of Michigan. He taught English at Adelphi in 1940-1945, Amherst College in 1945-1946, New York University in 1952-1953, and University of Minnesota at Duluth in 1953-1954. He also served as a visiting lecturer at the following universities: California at Berkeley, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State. During these years, Friar organized poetry readings for the pleasure of the public. He was the director of the Poetry Center in the YW/YMHA in New York City in 1943-1946, where he encouraged famous poets and amateurs to read their poetry at receptions. In 1951-1952, Friar ran the Theater Circle at the Circle in the Square Theatre, also in New York City. The plays produced there were primarily from the works of Arthur Miller (1915-2005), Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), Lillian Hellman (190-1984) and Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982).

Friar acted as the editor, in 1960-1962, of The Charioteer, and in 1963-1965, of Greek Heritage, two magazines dealing with Greek culture. He had been translating poetry from Greek into English, learning both languages fluently and gaining a perspective on modern Greek poetry. He has written, translated, and edited a variety of works by Greek poets and writers, including Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), Miltos Sahtouris (1919-2005), Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996), Takis Sinopoulos (1917-1981), Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990), Manolis Anagnostakis (1925-2005) and Kostas Kindinis (1932-1998). Some of his wll known titles include Modern Poetry: American and British (with John Malcolm Brinnin) in 1951, the 1960 translation of Saviors of God and the 1963 translation of Sodom and Gomorrah by Nikos Kazantzakis, and the 1973 anthology Modern Greek Poetry: from Cavafis to Elytis. However, Friar is best known for his translation of Kazantzakis' epic poem The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel. Friar completed this work in 1958 after several years of close collaboration with the author. Some critics declared that Friar lost his way in the double adjectives and complex language of the original (Kazantzakis used ancient vocabulary that is generally unknown to metropolitan scholars), and others agreed that Friar was at his best when he chose the prosaic word over the contrived or archaic. A Time magazine reviewer regarded The Odyssey as "a masterpiece. Kimon Friar received from Kazantzakis the ultimate praise: that his translation was as good as the original."

In 1978, Friar received the Greek World Award. Then, in 1986, he won both a Ford Foundation Grant and a National Foundation of the Arts Grant. He maintained: "I like to say that the poet in a translation should be heard, but the translator should be overheard."

Kimon Friar died on 25 May 1993. With faith in the The American College of Greece his manuscripts, collection of books and artworks were bequeathed to ACG. The College in return established in perpetuity the Annual Kimon Friar Lectureship in Neo-Hellenic Arts & Letters.

The Kimon Friar Bequest to the ACG Art collection of The American College of Greece includes works by the following artists: René Ben Sussan; Charles Bukowski (2); Christos Caras; Samuel Adolph Cashwan; Vassilis Charos; Margaret Dietrich; Achilles Droungas (3); Odysseus Elytis; Costas Evangelatos (4); Alekos Fassianos (4); Vassilis Fototpoulos (11); Scott Frankenberger; Nikos Georgiadis (2); Angelos N. Goulandris; Niki Goulandris (2); Nico Hadjikyriaco Ghika (11); Angelos Goulandris; Niki Goulandris (2); Kostas Grammatopoulos (2); Lance Hidy; Nana Isaia (2); Joe Kagle; Helen Kazantzakis; Jerry Kelly; Antonis Kepetzis; Erica Kornau; Constantine Manos (5); Jock McDonald; Natalia Mela (2); Henry Miller; Frederick Morgan; Nelly's; Tilda Nikolaidou (2); Olga Broumas; Joel Oppenheimer; Rebecca Ore; Yannis Ritsos; Zoe Skiadaressi (2); Yannis Spyropoulos (2); F.K. St. Rast; Aristotle Symeonidis; Yannis Tsarouchis (2); Spyros Vassiliou (2); e.a.

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2006]

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