Nicolas Calas

Nicolas Calas (Greek: Νικόλαος Κάλας) (May 27, 1907 – December 31, 1988)[1] was the pseudonym of Nikos Kalamaris (Νίκος Καλαμάρης), a Greek-American poet and art critic. While living in Greece, he also used the pseudonyms Nikitas Randos (Νικήτας Ράντος) and M. Spieros (Μ. Σπιέρος).

Greek-American poet and art critic
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Nicolas Calas (Nikos Kalamaris)
Born 1907
Lausanne, Switzerland
Died 1988
New York City
Pen name Also: Nikitas Randos (Νικήτας Ράντος),
M. Spieros (Μ. Σπιέρος)
Occupation Poet, Art critic, Polemicist
Nationality Greek-American
Period 19321985
Genre Surrealism, Modernism, Art criticism

. . . Nicolas Calas . . .

Nicolas Calas was born Nikos Kalamaris in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 27, 1907, but grew up in Athens, the only son of Ioannis Kalamaris who descended from a family of ship-owners and landowners from the island Syros, and Rosa Caradja who was the great-granddaughter of Markos Botsaris, the military leader and hero of the Greek War of Independence, and a descendant from the Phanariot Caradja family, a noble family which supplied high officials to the Ottoman Empire and rotating rulers to Danubian principalities. Calas later rebelled against his wealthy family background by becoming a Trotskyist, strongly influenced in his turn to radical politics by witnessing the human tragedy of the refugees of the 1922 Asia Minor catastrophe flooding the streets of Athens.

Calas studied Law and Political Science at the University of Athens between 1925 and 1930 and became active in the radical Student Society. Although he worked in a law office between 1930 and 1934, he soon abandoned this career to concentrate on his writing, both poetry and literary and political critique, often highly polemical in both style and content. Calas’s critical work, mostly published under the pseudonym M. Spieros (influenced by the French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre), was published in a string of literary and political journals in Greece between 1929 and 1938. He covered a wide range of subjects, such as cinema, politics and literary criticism, and he was the first critic to analyze the poetry of Constantine Cavafy from a Freudo-Marxist perspective. Calas’s poetry, published under the pseudonym Nikitas Randos, went through several stylistic changes which reflected his artistic curiosity and interest in the modernist trends of the early 20th century, such as futurism, expressionism and surrealism. In 1932, Calas’s debut Poems (Ποιήματα) was published. One of the first true modernists in Greece, Calas was clearly ahead of his time and suffered some negative criticism. His debut was followed by four poetry “notebooks” (Tetradia, Greek: Τετράδια Α’-Δ’) which circulated hors de commerce between 1933 and 1936.

Between 1934 and 1937, Calas split his time between Athens and Paris, where he soon became a member of the surrealist group attached to André Breton. The politically repressive climate in Greece after the 1936 coup of the dictator General Metaxas necessitated his permanent abandonment of Greece and he thus settled permanently in Paris in 1937. He continued writing poems, now in French, which were highly influenced by his immersion in surrealist poetics. Unpublished at the time, Calas’s French poems finally appeared in a bilingual edition (French-Greek) in 2002 in Greece.

In 1938, Calas published a book of Freudo–Surrealist–Trotskyist criticism in French, Foyers d’incendie (Hearths of Arson) which revealed his influence by theoreticians of the Frankfurt School, especially Wilhelm Reich, as well as the manifesto “Towards a Free Revolutionary Art” formulated by Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera and André Breton in Mexico in 1938.

. . . Nicolas Calas . . .

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. . . Nicolas Calas . . .

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