“Ten Reasons Why You Should Drop Everything and Read Cavafy Right Now”

Piano Poetry Pantelis Politics

[This is the larger part of a newspaper article commissioned by the Greek-American weekly The National Herald and published on Dec. 17, 2013, as part of a commemorative section entitled “Remembering Cavafy, 150 Years Later.”]

Here are ten reasons why you should drop whatever you may be doing right now, and read Cavafy.

1. Cavafy is canonical. You are not an educated person if you do not know some of his poems. It’s that simple. Lines from Cavafy’s “The City,” “Ithaca,” “Waiting for the Barbarians,” “The Windows,” “Thermopylae,” and “The God Abandons Antony” are known all over the world. They have entered the English language and have become standard references, just like Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be.” If I meet somebody in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live, and I tell them “Pray for a road that will be long” or “Those people were a kind…

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