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History > General History > Nikos Kavvadias. Radio operator on the SS Cyrenia, (Kryenia).

History > General History

submitted by George Poulos on 15.10.2005

Nikos Kavvadias. Radio operator on the SS Cyrenia, (Kryenia).

Being an adminstrator at kythera-family, can be a priveleged position.

Often interesting correspondence flows into your email box from around the world.

One such email arrived on Oct 1, 2005, from Ioannis Mavridis a journalist/producer at the Greek State channel ERT.

He is involved in researching the life of Greek poet Nikos Kavvadias. Kavvadias was a radio operator on the SS Cyrenia, (Kryenia).

I could find no reference to Nikos Kavvadias in either Gilchrist II or III.

However, I thought, he must be a fairly serious poet for the Greek State channel to be interested in him.

I wonder if any Kytherians interacted with him during their journeys to and from Australia?

My next impulse was to check if there was any data on kythera-family

There is no stand-alone entry for either poet or ship.

An entry on the web-site at,

mentions, however, "....the resumption of migration beginning with regular voyages of the SS Kyrenia in 1949."

I approached John Stathatos in Kythera and asked him if he knew more about Nikos Kavvadias, or the SS Kyrenia.

John Stathatos responded that:

Nikos Kavvadias (1910-1975) was a talented Greek poet and writer, and a radio operator in the Greek merchant marine. His experience of the sea and his travels pervade the great majority of his writings, which include three poetry collections, a novel, “Watch”, and some shorter texts. His work was much admired by other Greek writers, including George Seferis, but in recent years he has found a wider popular audience through the song cycles of the composer Thanos Mikroutsikos.

One of the poems set to music by Mikroutsikos is called “The Seven Dwarves on the s/s Cyrenia”, but the verses have no bearing on either Australia or emigration. While in theory it is certainly possible for some of the Cyrenia’s passengers to have met Kavvadias, in practice this would probably be unlikely; as the ship’s sole radio operator, while at sea Kavvadias would most likely have been on duty for the greater part of the day in the radio shack. Also, from what I can judge of his character, I should guess he probably didn’t much socialise with passengers.

Petro Cassimaty, Kingsford, has alerted me to two web-site's that cast further light on the Kavvadias legacy.

The latter includes this brief biography:


Nikos Kavvadias was born in 1910 in a small town in Manchuria near Harbin, by Greek parents from Cefallonia. When he was very young, his family returned to Greece.

They lived in Cefallonia for a few years and later from 1921 to 1932 in Pireas, where Nikos Kavvadias finished elementary school and then the Gymnasium. He wrote his first poems as a pupil at the elementary school. In 1929, he started working as a clerk in a shipping office and a few months later he went on board a freighter as a sailor. Over the next few years he continued to travel on the freighters, returning home wretched and penniless, only to take off again shortly after. This went on until he decided to get a diploma as a wireless operator.

At first he wanted to become a captain, but he had already lost too many years wandering around and the wireless operator's diploma was the quicket way out. He got it in 1939 -- but World War II started, he became a soldier and fought in Albania, and, throughout the German Occupation he lived in Athens, landed.

He embarked again in 1944 and travelled continuously, as a wireless operator, all over the world, until November 1974 -- three months before the fatal stroke he suffered on February 10, 1975.

Vardia, his only novel, was published for the first time in 1954. His collection of poems Marabou was published in 1933, Pousi in 1947, and Traverso in 1975. His short stories Li and Of the War/On my Horse were published in 1987. "Li" was produced as a film in 1995 with the title "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea".

The site also includes English translations of the following poems:

A Dagger (Ena Machairi)
Fog (Pousi)
The Southern Cross (Stavros tou Notou)
Kuro Siwo
Mal du Depart
A Bord De L' "Aspasia"

Can anyone add to this little store of information?

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