Judith Kazantzis

Judith  Kazantzis  




Judith Kazantzis, poet and novelist, was born 1940 and grew up in East Sussex.  She took a history degree but has spent her life writing and painting, and, "where and when possible, political activism", reflected in many of her books.  She returned to live in Lewes, E. Sussex, after many years in London, with frequent stays in Key West and other places in the US (her husband being American).  She has two children in their thirties.  Her work has appeared internationally in anthologies and magazines, and she is a regular reader and workshop leader  at festivals and poetry venues. She also gives private workshop sessions.


Just After Midnight (Enitharmon Press, 2004, ISBN 1-904634028, £8.95) -  available from the publisher at www.enitharmon.co.uk.

In Cyclops' Cave, a new translation from Homer' s Book 9, The Odyssey.  (The Greville Press.  Mellors Court. The Butts. Warwick. CV34 4ST - available from the author or publisher for £2.25, 2003; 
ISBN 0 906887747).

Her seventh collection was the book length sequence The Odysseus Poems: Fictions on the Odyssey of Homer (Cargo Press, The Annex, Perhaven House, Cliff Road, Gorran Haven, PH26 6JN or www.cargo_press.co.uk, 1999, ISBN 1899980075) . In print, available from publisher - £9.50 inc pp.  Email inquiries to Cargo Press here.  Illus by Jacqueline Morreau with four full page original etchings.

  • A sensuous interweaving of the famous voices, Odysseus, Penelope, Kalypso and Circe, even the many headed monster Skylla, they slyly point up the weak links in Odysseus' account of his Great Wanderings. So the hero becomes human: callous, deeply divided in himself, yet courageous and in his fashion true. 
  • Judith Kazantzis with Irving Weinman perform 'Sex, Lies and Odysseus' devised from the poems.

Her sixth collection was Swimming Through The Grand Hotel (Enitharmon Press 1997, ISBN 1-900564-20-3) - available from the publisher at www.enitharmon.co.uk.

  • Poems of love, fantasy, art, politics and landscape. 
  • The Times Literary Supplement: "Judith Kazantzis writes a poetry of sensuous immediacy couched in an agile, conversational style."
  • Stand: "the world made strange, surreal, subterranean fantasia ... an unusual voice in contemporary poetry in Britain."

Selected Poems 1977-1992 (1995 Sinclair-Stevenson, 
ISBN 1-85619-552-X)

  • This selection included poems from five and more books:

The Rabbit Magician Plate (1992 Sinclair-Stevenson)

Flame Tree (1988 Methuen)

A Poem for Guatemala, poem cycle (1988 The Greville Press - see above)

Lets Pretend (1984 Virago)

Touch Papers (with Michele Roberts and Michelene Wandor, 1982, Allison and Busby).  Available through Ice House Books.

The Wicked Queen (1980 Sidgwick and Jackson) 

Minefield (1977 Sidgwick and Jackson) 

Many of Judith Kazantzis' books may be found at www.amazon.com (US/$) or www.amazon.co.uk (UK/£).


Of Love and Terror, a first novel (2002 Saqi Books, London) 
"Of Love and Terror", first novel by Judith Kazantzis

A story of rivals and lovers, of two woman and a man, of hunted revolutionaries and fat cats, of passion and tragedy. A three generation story woven against a rich and complex political background, it links three very different worlds, Southern England; Key West; and the imaginary mountains of Tiotemala, Central America. AMBIT MAGAZINE ran a ten page extract in 2001.  Available at Saqi Books: www.saqibooks.com 
ISBN 0-86356-316-3

Ruth Fainlight's novel choice for 2002 (Independent on Sunday).  

"A story rare for these days, where passion and private gain struggle with a sense of right and self... immense sublety and finesse", Dorothy Schwarz, Quality Women's Fiction.

 "An absorbing read", The Tablet.

Anthologies (recent and selected)

Christmas Cards (Enitharmon Press, 2005)

A Celebration of Wilfred Owen (The Interpreters House); Poems On The Underground (Cassells 2001), Parents (Enitharmon 2000), Red Sky At Night (Many Leaves Press, 2003), A Ring of Words (Arvon Prize Anthology 1998), Mind Readings, Dancing in the Street, The Faber Book of Blue Verse and the Virago Book of Love Poetry

Poems On The Underground featured her poem 'Freight Song', which concludes the tenth anthology of Poems on the Underground (Cassell).

She has had short stories published in Serpents Tail Anthologies.


Judith Kazantzis has read her poems at many venues in the UK including Hay, Cheltenham, Bristol, Lancaster, Brighton and Hull Literature Festivals, Kings Lynn Poetry Festival and Lewes Live Literature; at the Voice Box, the British Museum, the Poetry Cafe, Torriano, and Coffee House Readings at the Troubadour in London, and also in America and Europe. 

Magazines / Newspapers

Her poems have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including The Independent on Sunday, London Magazine, Stand, Ambit, Agenda, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Bete Noire, The Honest Ulsterman, Poetry Ireland, Red Pepper, The Independent, The New Statesman, Tribune.  

The Independent featured her poems in their column 'The Daily Poem', most recently from The Odysseus Poems (1999). The Independent on Sunday featured 'Two for the Senora', a poem from Just After Midnight (2004).

Short stories published in Critical Quarterly, London Magazine and Aquarius.

On Just After Midnight, RV Bailey: "Adventurous, challenging, surrealist, magical, ... the work of an alert and committed writer". Frognal Papers: "her formidable range... ample evidence that she has found a significant number of new avenues to explore".

On In Cyclops' Cave: Robert Fagles, the Homeric translator: "...such a fine blend of the lyric and the gutsy, the punning and the deadly earnest..."

Of Love and Terror: Hanan al-Shaykh's response was  "Raw emotion explodes on every page. I was smiling and sobbing at the same time."  Ruth Fainlight's novel choice for 2002 (Independent on Sunday). "A story rare for these days, where passion and private gain struggle with a sense of right and self... immense sublety and finesse", Dorothy Schwarz, Quality Women's Fiction. "An absorbing read", The Tablet.

Of The Odysseus Poems: Fictions on the Odyssey of Homer, Ruth Fainlight writes  "She gives further evidence of an ability to imagine herself into many roles... This tender, ironical portrait of a hero who has fascinated the European imagination for more than two millennia makes a fascinating development in the work of this justifiably ambitious poet." 

Marina Warner writes: "Judith Kazantzis' sequence of interwoven voices casts the many struggles with monsters, the seductions and loneliness of love, and the long wanderings of heroes into a vivid meditation for our turbulent times." 

"A sense of a poet moving up a register of inspiration... her uncommon insight into the complexities of male sexuality indicates that the classics are still rich territory for the truly original poet, all themore so for the sheer entertainment value of some of her poems".  James Sunderland Smith, PN Review

"She sensualises The Odyssey, not to soften it but tot plunge it further into inhuman mysteries"... "this powerful and complex work"  Orbis

"her strategy recalls Auden's characters in The Sea and The Mirror but some of the poems evoke the more beautiful bits of The Cantos" Herbert Lomas, Ambit

"'extraordinarily seductive... the pure work of poetry, tacking and veering between vernaculars and lyrical writing"  Judy Gahagan, Poetry London 

See also: Other media, for dramatisation of The Odysseus Poems.

On Swimming Through The Grand Hotel:

The Times Literary Supplement: "Judith Kazantzis writes a poetry of sensuous immediacy couched in an agile, conversational style."

Stand: "the world made strange, surreal, subterranean fantasia ... an unusual voice in contemporary poetry in Britain."

Some review quotes of the Selected Poems:

The Sunday Telegraph: (Vernon Scannell): "Considerable variety of technical skill, mood and subject-matter. Nearly all these poems are informed by a sharp wit, intelligence and a courageous confrontation of the less endurable aspects of human life at the end of our troubled century." 

Poetry Review (Helen Dunmore):  "assured, flexible and rich with experience". 

The Times Literary Supplement: "an intriguing and unpredictable writer. The best of the free verse charges up like a battery". 

Stand (Jon Glover): "an important and wide ranging volume".

What reviewers said of previous collections:

Of  The Rabbit Magician Plate (1992), distinguished American Laureate poet Richard Wilbur wrote: "though there are many things one might praise about Judith Kazantzis' poems, what strikes me everywhere is the unexpectedness of her word choice; re-encountered, her words surprise again through their unusual accuracy and their nice governance of tone, not derailing the reader (as tawdry surprises do) but putting him precisely on the track".

Poetry Review praised "her bright abundances of imagery and her musically mobile constructions."

"By far and above the best collection of this present crop, including both Harrison and Armitage. Rush out and buy it". Peter Finch, The New Welsh Review.

Of her poem cycle A Poem for Guatemala (1988) Harold Pinter said that it was "A rare event: A major political poem...beautiful wrought, concrete, and passionate."  Carol Ann Duffy said "Someone should give a copy to Colonel North."

Of Flame Tree (1988) the TLS noted "this all too rare ability to fuse personal and polemical statements."

Of Lets Pretend (1984) Poetry Review: "[she] discovers a further level of liberation in her cool compassion, her unangry, strenuous exploration of our social secrets."

Of The Wicked Queen (1980) poet Ann Stevenson noted its "tenderness and a wry insight...There are, in fact, many wicked queens and Kazantzis makes a case for them all"

Of Minefield (1977) poet novelist Michele Roberts commented, "the handling of language is totally satisfying: time and time again I exclaimed Yes, that's exactly it, you have made me see what you mean." And ..."the book is well-named; if a minefield could write poetry, this is the poetry it would write...." or "nervous energy, bitter wit, and keen eye for striking visual detail.." DM Thomas, TLS



link to home page