Remembering Harry

CHRISTINE KONDOLEON

I would like to welcome you all in this celebration of Harry Kondoleon’s life on behalf of his family and close friends. I am Harry’s sister, and it is my privilege to represent Harry’s family, especially his mother, Athena, his father, Sophocles, his nephew, Lucas, his brother-in-law, Frederic, and his uncle Nick.

Lucas, Christine, Harry, and Fred

There are so many thoughts and emotions that rush to your head, clog your throat, choke your breath when a beloved person dies. The immediacy of a physical fascination with death is present, so is the automatic dialogue with the deceased — desperate whispers and last intimacies bridge our world and theirs. As I sat with Harry on March 16th and watched, I felt the urge to write, to inscribe death. But my thoughts soon turned to the community that supported Harry — sustained him emotionally and professionally. It is to all of you that I extend these few lines and express my deep and everlasting thanks.

Illness scores, but never wins
Victors’ wreaths are for a new band of Ephebes
they run the race with Chronos at their backs
Founding a democracy on accountability and truth.

For such is the presence of a millennial demise
that losing and leaving
are the language of the Agora,

and loving well the heroic call.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Steven Cohen and the Joseph Papp Public Theater for their generosity and assistance. Special thanks to Rita Ryack for the wonderful photo display and to Cathy Graham for the flowers.

 

We are pleased to announce that the Dramatic Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU has decided to honor Harry, who was an adjunct professor in the program, by naming a departmental award the Harry Kondoleon Graduate Award in Playwriting. Thanks especially to Janet Neipris for this meaningful tribute.

I would like to close with one of Harry’s favorite poems and one that came to mean much to him in his last year. It is by Elizabeth Bishop.


“One Art”

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-1ast, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

 

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