Dean Kostos, Obituary

From National Herald

Award-winning Greek-American Poet Dean Kostos Passed Away

By Penelope Karageorge

NEW YORK – Award-winning Greek-American poet Dean Kostos passed away due to a heart attack. He was 68. The National Herald’s longtime contributor Penelope Karageorge shared the sad news in the following statement via email:

“Dean Kostos, a brilliant poet, an adventurer with words, and a wonderful friend, has died of a heart attack. Dean was a poet and educator, anthologist, and curator of Greek and Greek-American poetry. He was the editor of Pomegranate Seeds, an Anthology of Greek-American Poetry. Published by Somerset Hall Press, this was a true labor of love and I was honored to be a part of it. Dean’s accomplishments were vast, and unique, with their frequent flavor of surrealism, an art that Dean embraced. His collections included This Is Not A Skyscraper (recipient of the 2013 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award). Rivering, Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends With a Comma, and Celestial Rust. His poems, personal essays and translations appeared in over 300 journals.

“Dean co-edited Mama’s Boy, Gay Men Write About Their Mothers. He was the author of an original and fascinating memoir, The Boy Who Listened to Paintings, published by Spuyten Duyvil. Dean’s libretto, Dialogue: Angel of Peace, Angel of War, was set to music by James Bassi and performed by Voices of Ascension. Dean taught at Wesleyan, the Gallatin School of New York University, and the City University of New York. We celebrate Dean, his life and his art.”

Karageorge told TNH that a Zoom program honoring Kostos’ life is planned for December 17 at 5 PM.

A founder of the Greek-American Writers’ Association, Kostos was the author of eight books. His recent collection, This Is Not a Skyscraper, won the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, selected by Mark Doty. His poems, personal essays, and reviews have appeared in over 300 journals, including Barrow Street, Boulevard, Southwest Review, Western Humanities Review, on Oprah Winfrey’s web-site and on the Harvard UP website. Besides teaching at the above-mentioned universities, he also held workshops for gifted adolescents at Columbia University. A recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, Kostos had also served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown Awards and received a Rockefeller Innovation grant. Trained initially as a visual artist, his works have been exhibited in galleries and at the Brooklyn Museum.

The youngest of the two sons of Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos and Theodore M. Kostos, Dean Kostos was raised in Cinnaminson, NJ, and later lived and wrote in New York City. His mother, a Greek-American artist and dedicated advocate for the recognition of the Hellenic genocide, also wrote poetry, some of which appeared in the anthology Pomegranate Seeds.

On the Greek-American Writers’ Association Facebook page Larissa Shmailo posted on November 14: “My friend, and maybe yours – Dean Kostos has passed away. So many people loved him. I am devastated. A brilliant poet, memoirist, visual artist. And one of the kindest souls I have ever known. This is a great loss to the world, and to words.”

Author and Hofstra University Professor Barbara Lekatsas in her post on Facebook noted her sadness at Kostos’ passing and that she “last spoke to him in September. We were supposed to get together… He overcame a lot and accomplished a lot.”