Yannis Ritsos is a poet whose writing life is entwined with the contemporary history of his homeland in Greece. Ritsos is considered one of the five great Greek poets of the twentieth century, though his poetry was banned there repeatedly due to his left wing beliefs. Notable works by Ritsos include Tractor (1934), Pyramids (1935), Epitaph (1936) and Vigil (1941-1953).
The poems in Diaries of Exile (Archipelago Books) presents a series of three diaries in poetry that Ritsos wrote between 1948-1950, during and just after the Greek Civil War while a political prisoner first on the island of Limnos and then at the infamous camp on Makrionis. While imprisoned, Ritsos dedicated his days to poetry, trusting in writing and in art as collective endeavors capable of resisting oppression and bringing people together across distance and time.