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Days of 2023: A Poetic Symposium on C.P. Cavafy

General Programming

dateMay 1, 2023 timeMonday, 9:30am–3:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Columbia University Office of the President
  • Program in Hellenic Studies
  • Department of Classics
  • Columbia University School of the Arts
  • Onassis Foundation
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Painted portrait of C.P. Cavafy in bright, unnatural colors

As a part of the Onassis Foundation's citywide Archive of Desire: A Festival Inspired by the Poet C.P. Cavafy, join us for a symposium for poets from New York, Egypt, and Greece led by professors Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia) and Karen Emmerich (Princeton), both members of the Cavafy Academic Committee. Days of 2023 references Cavafy’s many works named “Days of...” with the year of their writing or a date of reflection as titles.

This event is a part of the Onassis Foundation's Archive of Desire: A Festival Inspired by the Poet C.P. Cavafy.

9:30 – 9:50 Introductions
Sarah Cole, Dean of Humanities
Stathis Gourgouris, Director of the Program in Hellenic Studies

10:00 – 11:15 History and Politics of the Interstitial
Neni Panourgiá (Moderator, Columbia University)
Orfeas Apergis (poet and translator, Athens)
Haytham el-Wardani (writer and translator, Berlin)
Yiannis Doukas (poet and essayist, Athens)
Katerina Iliopoulou (poet and translator, Athens)

11:30 – 12:45 Translation as a Poetic Act
Stathis Gourgouris (Moderator, Columbia University)
Susan Bernofsky (translator, Columbia University)
Karen Emmerich (translator, Princeton University)
Stathis Gourgouris (poet, critic, translator, Columbia University)
Iman Mersal (poet, critic, translator, University of Alberta)

12:45 – 1:30 break

1:30 – 2:45 Erotics and Poetics of the Undisclosed
Nikolas P. Kakkoufa (Moderator, Columbia University)
Phoebe Giannisi (poet and artist, University of Thessaly)
Janlori Goldman (poet and critic, Columbia University)
Robin Coste Lewis (poet, artist, critic, USC)
Brenda Shaughnessy (poet and critic, Rutgers-Newark)


A poet of the in-between, Constantine P. Cavafy was born in Alexandria in 1863 to Greek parents from Constantinople, and inhabited a fluid cross-cultural existence that strongly influenced his writing. Cavafy spent most of his life in Alexandria, where he lived in a neighborhood of intersecting walks of life—and his work mirrors the vibrancy and tensions of the worlds mingling outside his door. Cavafy’s poetry is marked by a pervasive sense of liminality: his language can be idiosyncratic, playful, modern to the point of being called by some “prosaic,” yet also nostalgic. Similarly, his poetry often references Greek history and mythology, yet he is a monumental figure of modernism, and his works offer viewpoints that transcend their time and resonate today. Cavafy's poetry was a safe haven for him to explore his queerness -- sometimes explicitly, sometimes in more coded language.


The mission of the Onassis Foundation, founded by Aristotle Onassis in 1975, will always be human-centric; to create the conditions, explore the ideas, and spark the discussions that lead to a better society.

The Foundation works to promote the rich contributions of contemporary Greek culture throughout the world. The Onassis Foundation's work is based in Athens but spans the globe, focusing on culture, healthcare, and education. It has awarded more than 7,500 scholarships to young people worldwide since the late '70s and presents countless cultural events each year.

And when it comes to culture, it's not just art; it's a way of living. At Onassis Culture, with the Onassis Stegi as its hub in Athens, Greece, the Foundation encourages the talent and energy of local and international artists to thrive and starts conversations that aim to shake and shape society. Onassis Stegi is a center of global contemporary culture that, through a series of initiatives and works, promotes dialogue about democracy, social and environmental justice, racial and gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

In the US, the Onassis Foundation offers generous support for and curation of cultural programming across various art forms and creative endeavors. Onassis USA, based in New York, includes ONX Studio for Extended Reality, an accelerator, a subsidized workspace, and an exhibition gallery located in the Onassis Gallery of Olympic Tower in Manhattan.