Monemvasia Giannis Ritsos

Giannis Ritsos: Giannis Ritsos is one of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century. He was born in Monemvasia in 1909. While he was in his early teens, his mother and brother died from tuberculosis and a few years later, his father, who used to be a wealthy landowner, lost their fortune to gamble games and went insane.

In 1925, he moves to Athens and works as a dancer, an actor, and a director to face poverty. He also develops tuberculosis and is hospitalized in hospitals of Athens and Chania. His sister also gets insane and dies. He said that death and insanity took him everything he loved the most. Once he gets healthy again, he publishes collections of poems and gets hired as a journal correspondent to the Soviet Union.

His poems had mainly political content. He believed in communism and fought for his political ideas. His books were banned for some periods and he was also exiled many times in Leros, Ai-Stratis, Giaros, Makronisos and other small islands that were used as prison camps for political prisoners.

In 1956, he got married to Filitsa Georgiadis, a doctor, and had a daughter. In 1956, he got the National Poetry Award and in 1977, the Lenin Peace Award. He was unsuccessfully proposed for the Nobel Prize for Literature nine times. During his hassled life, he published almost 120 works, among which are collections of poems, theatre plays, essays, and translations.

He died in Athens in 1990, disappointed by the decline of the communistic regime in the Soviet Union. He was buried in Monemvasia and his grave lies still there, in the cemetery of Monemvasia, right below the castle.