The oldest living Greek poet, currently 93 years old, recounts his life from the first incident he can recall from when he was 3 years old to the creation of his latest poetry collection, "The road again", written in quarantine; Maria Callas, Ritsos, Lountemis, Makronisos, Ai Stratis, May 68, Sartre and many more have run in between.
The path of a life guided by poetry
By Makis Provatas
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
Titos Patrikios believes that poetry builds bridges between people, even when they are completely different from each other. He states that poetry isn’t possible without experiences, but it’s also not possible with experiences alone.
Enclosed in the island of tears
From the very beginning, his life was like an amazing fictional adventure. His first recollections date back to when he was three years old on ocean liner Saturnia, returning from New York with his parents, but he’s never beensure if he actually lived that or if they just described it to him.
But what he is sure of is that at the age of three,he experienced his first confinement on Ellis Island and had to prove in a US court that those who were with him were his parents and he hadn’t been abducted.
Resistance and Exile
During the Nazi occupation he took part in the National Resistance. That’s when he met a plump girl in a breadline, Maria Kalogeropoulou, known worldwide today as Maria Callas…
The adventure of a lifetime and the acquaintances with people who influenced his thinking and expression continued in exile. In the early '50s he was exiled to Ai Stratis where he met Ritsos, who advised him to be careful with the use of adjectives in his poems, because they were the most dangerous words. Also he was advised not to use a lot of abstract nouns, such as justice, freedom and democracy, because due to overuse, they would become rhetoric.
In Ai Stratis, on a Sunday outing that all the inmates had in the coffee house of the village, he had an experience with Lountemis, which taught him a lot and hasn’t stopped surprising him until today...
The first collection, May '68 and Sartre
His first collection of poems "The dirt road" came out after he had to lie first and hide the manuscripts in a suitcase so that neither the gendarmerie nor the guards could find them.
His mother, Lela, had to go on a theatre tour withthe "Kalis Kalo" troupe to raise money to help him publish his first poetry collection.
He lived May 1968 in Paris with the French and had a very disappointing experience with Sartre, whom he had admired until then. It was also in Paris when in 1970, he met the most important person of his life, his partner and later his wife, Rena Stavridi.
In the 80's he officially got the acknowledgementpaper for his resistance action, but he refused to receive a resistance pension, saying: “well, will I get a resistance pension for things I did when I was 15-16, for things I did out of love for my country? ”
The timeless essence of words
He calls it one of the biggest surprises of his life, when a few years ago he saw that an excerpt ofhis poetry collection, "Poetry finds you", was included in the Panhellenic exams of 2020.
He also had a conversation with President Macron when he visited Greece. They sat at the same table and the president advised him on the right order of things in life…
His latest poetry collection "The Road Again" consists of poems written in quarantine and hefeels that it’s connected to the "Dirt Road" published 66 years ago, so it begins with an excerpt of that collection.
The verse that always overwhelms him is the oneof Ancient Greek Lyric Poet, Pindar: "Man is the dream of a Shadow". He considers the essence of this verse timeless and unique, as well as the fact that it was written thousands of years ago withthree Greek words that are still used today...