the voice of Tasos Leivaditis (by N.N. Trakakis, 2017)
The world will always need the voice of Tasos Leivaditis. Not only the world of his own time and place, a Greece devastated by the second world war and soon thereafter by a civil war that saw many of the leading lights of the country imprisoned, exiled or executed for their refusal to accept the conservative and capitalist forces as the only possibility. Led by the indomitable Yannis Ritsos, an entire generation of leftist writers were to suffer this fate, including Aris Alexandrou, Titos Patrikios, Nikos Karouzos, Manolis Anagnostakis, Mihalis Katsaros, and Leivaditis himself. The similarly devastated Greece of today, ruined by war conducted by other means, by economic attrition and austerity, still desperately needs these voices, many of whose verses the youth have imbided and spraypainted across walls and monuments throughout Athens. But outside of Greece the voice of Leivaditis, rarely heard to this day, has perhaps even more to offer. In the midst of a dead or at least dying Europe, deformed by political and religious ideologies of fear and distrust, of the stranger and foreigner especially; in the midst of a Western culture where culture itself has become just another industry, as commodified and corporatised as any other, each rising star seeking their fifteen minutes of fame on the next reality TV show; in the midst of an increasingly profligate and inequitable world heading for environmental catastrophe – in these circumstances it is the calm and deep voice of a Leivaditis that will help you ‘keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,’ to quote from Kipling.
It is so that this voice may be better heard that this translation has been undertaken.
N.N. Trakakis, from the ‘Introduction’ to Violets for a Season by Tasos Leivaditis, Red Dragonfly Press, 2017.