Born in 1911 on an island in the Sea of Marmara (Propontis) to Greek parents who emigrated to the US when he was still a child, Kimon Friar grew up within the linguistically rich tradition of the Hellenic diaspora of Asia Minor and Constantinople. He joined his parents in California at the age of 13. He first visited Greece in 1946 and instantly fell in love with it. By 1950 he had established himself in Athens as a translator and man of letters while he developed, in the course of the following 40 years, professional and literary affiliations with New York University, the University of California, Columbia, Yale and the Poetry Center in New York City, of which he was director for several years. Friar's talents as an essayist, editor and translator were set free in his anthologies, Modern Greek Poetry from Cavafis to Elytis (1973), and its companion volume, Contemporary Greek Poetry (1983). Their compilation took him more than 30 years of methodical selection, innumerable drafts and lengthy discussions (some preserved on tape) with almost all of the poets anthologised. He is best known for his translation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ epic poem The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, but published a plethora of other translations including The Sovereign Sun: Selected Poems by Odysseus Elytis (Temple University Press, 1974; Bloodaxe Books, 1990), Sodom and Gomorrah (Nostos Books, 1982) by Nikos Kazantzakis, With Face to the Wall: Selected Poems by Miltos Sahtouris (Charioteer Press, 1968), and Selected Poems: 1938-1988 (BOA Editions, 1989) with Kostas Myrsiades by Yannis Ritsos. He died in Athens in 1993.
Picture shows Kimon Friar in Athens in 1955.