Alexandros Issaris was born in Serres in 1941 and lived in Thessaloniki from 1962 until 1978. He studied Architecture. In 1968 he collaborated with Prof. Nikolaos Platon in the archaeological excavations of Kato Zakros, in Crete. From 1970 to 1978 he managed the Greek edition of the Ausblicke literary magazine. He has published essays, prose, poetry and translations in several magazines. In 1974 he designed the set and the costumes for the production of Aristophanes’ Knights by the Thessaloniki Theatrical Workshop. In the same year, he produced a comprehensive plan for the creation of two new settlements in the prefectures of Kastoria and Florina. In 1977 he received the Maria Rallis Award for his first collection of poetry, Friends of the Sea Club – The Rope-dancer. In 1982 he produced literary programs for the Greek State Radio over a six month period. In 1985 he participated in the Greek Poetry Week that took place in Amsterdam and Groningen. In 1986 he represented Greece at the European Theater Festival at Müllheim, Germany. Meanwhile, in 1978, he settled in Athens, where he lives to this day working as a graphic designer.
In 1987 the Dutch magazine De Tweede Ronde featured a special piece on his literary and artistic work. In 1988 he spent a month at the Centre for Translators in Strahlen, Germany and in 1990, following an invitation by the Goethe Institute, he visited several German cities with outstanding cultural presence and met significant artists and writers. During the next years (in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1999) he also spent time in Wien as a special guest of the Austrian Writers’ Society. In 1997 he became a founding member of the Thomas Bernhard Foundation. In 1993, a special tribute to his literary work was organized at the Vafopouleion Foundation in Thessaloniki. In 1996, Issaris read his poetry at the Literaturhaus in Hamburg, alongside other Greek poets. In 1997 he won the prestigious State Translation Prize for his translation of Thomas Bernhard’s novel, Concrete. In 1999 he directed a special audiovisual event on German Romanticism (Schumann and Novalis) at the Melina Merkouri Foundation. In 2000 he taught literary translation to post-graduate students at the Department of German Literature of the Athens University.
In 2001 Issaris represented Greece at the International Poetry Month, which took place in Berlin, and taught literary translation at the European Centre for Translation of Literature (EKEMEL) in Athens. That same year, his book I will return luminous was shortlisted for the State Poetry Prize. In 2002 he was nominated for the State Literary Translation Prize for his translation of Robert Musil’s The Young Törles. In 2004 poems by Issaris were included in the Antologia della poesia greca contemporanea (ed. Crocetti). In 2006 he participated in the World Poetry Festival at Lodeve, France, where eight poets wrote poetry inspired by his work. In 2007 he won the EKEMEL award for his translation of Ludwig Tiek’s The blond Eckbert – The Runenberg. In 2011 Issaris was named “Writer of the Year” by Status magazine for his book Winckelmann or Destiny, and was awarded the first prize for Best Book of Short Stories by the Diavazo magazine and the EKEMEL award for his translation of Reiner Maria Rilke’s, Letters to a young poet. In 2012 his poems were included in the Anthologie de la poésie grecque 1975-2005 (ed. L’ Harmattan).
To this day, Issaris has published the following books: Friends of the Sea Club – The Rope-dancer (poetry, Leschi tou Diskou, 1976), The Side Effects of Silence (poetry, Ypsilon, 1984), Between them the music (prose, Agrostis, 1991 and Nefeli, 1998), The Tristans (poetry, Nefeli, 1992), I will return luminous (poetry, Agra, 2000), Faces of Two Decades (photographic portraits, Hermes, 1998) and Giorgos Chimonas, Manuscripts from Alexandros Issaris’ Archive (Ikaros, 2006). In 2007 his book Beneath the eyelids. Notes on Rilke was published by Ikaros, and in 2010, his short stories Winckelmann or Destiny (Kichli).
He has translated the following books: Andorra by Max Frisch, Tonio Kröger by Thomas Mann, The Young Törles, The Enchanted House-Grigia by Robert Musil, Marcel Proust by Roger Shattuck, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, False Movement, The Hour of the True Feeling by Peter Handke, Concrete, The Voice Imitator by Thomas Bernhard, Winter Journey by Wilhelm Müller, Martyrology by Andrei Tarkovski, The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, Escape into Darkness by Arthur Schnitzler, Ludwig, Homosexuality and Fascism by Klaus Mann, Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner, The Other Trial by Elias Canetti, Proust’s Way by Roger Sattuck, Lenz by Georg Buchner, The Blond Eckbert-The Runenberg by Ludwig Tieck, The Ecclesiast (from the Old Testament) and Letters to a Young Poet by Reiner Maria Rilke.
He has also translated the following librettos and oratorios: Passion of St. Matthew by Johann Sebastian Bach, The Creation by Joseph Haydn, Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven, The Song of the Earth by Gustav Mahler, and The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Issaris made his debut as a painter in 1968, when he participated in the Costas Parthenis Competition, receiving special commendation. He has shown his work in eleven individual exhibitions: 1973: at the Zita Mi Gallery in Thessaloniki, 1981: at the Nees Morphes Gallery in Athens and the Bodo von Langenn Gallery in Berlin, 1982: at the Herakleion Art Gallery, 1983: at the Zografou Municipal Arts Centre (portraits of C.P. Cavafy), 1993: at the Kreonidis Art Gallery in Athens and the Paratiritis Art Gallery in Thessaloniki, 1999: at the Skoufa Art Gallery in Athens, 2000: at the Irmos Gallery in Thessaloniki, in 2004 and 2008 at the 7 Gallery in Athens and in 2011 in the bookstore Lemoni of Athens. He has also participated in thirteen group exhibitions. In 1996 he took part in an exhibition under the title Surrealism – The Greek Dimension, organized by Manos Stefanidis at the Titanium Art Gallery, and in 2009 he showed his work at the Beyond Real – Echoes of Surrealism in Greece exhibition, organized by Bia Papadopoulou at the Municipal Art Gallery in Chania. Paintings by Issaris are included in various collections. Three books about his art have been published: Alexandros Issaris. Paintings 1984-1992 (text by Athena Schina, Olkos Publications, 1993), Alexandros Issaris – The Man and the Riddle, with texts by Yannis Bolis and Efthymia Georgiadou-Koundoura (Exandas, 2004), and Alexandros Issaris – The Young Man of Mozia and other mysteries (text by Efthymia Georgiadou-Koundoura, Indiktos Publications, 2008).
He is a member of the Greek Writers Society, the Chamber of Fine Arts, the Technical Chamber and the Greek Playwrights Society.
Last modified: 12/11/2013