Athens

In the tiny Ledra boite in the old Plaka section of Athens, Nikos Xylouris sings songs of revolution to crowds that overflow the nightclub.

There is such a flood of new poetry that frenzied publishers say they just do not have facilities to handle it all.

Three years after Greece's military dictatorship relinquished power, on July 23, 1974, a new generation of artists writers, directors and poets has come to the fore.

Many were politicized under the juanta.Some suffered torture or arrest. Thus, as they indulge their new-found poetic license, much of their material is political and they have brought a new counter-culture to Greece.

Dozens of new boites and off-beat theaters specialize in satirical reviews. The ballads of popular troubadour Dionysios Savvopoulos cry out for social reform.

Celebrated author Nikos Kazantzakis, banned by the juanta for his "religious amorality," is out in new editions. Communist poets Kostas Varnalis and Ioannis Ritsos are being published in Greecce for the first time.

At the Cannes Film Festival, there avant-garde Greek directors have received praise from the critics. Theodoros Angelopoulos's "Traveling Players" and Pandelis Voulgaris's "Happy Day" both deal with political issues. This year's presentation by veteran director Michael Cacoyannis, a contemporary rendition of "Iphigenia" by Euripides, nearly won the best actress award for Irene Pappas.

Home from long exiles and making an impact on the artistic scene, are actresses Melina Mercouri and Aspassia Papathanassiou, composer Mikis Theodorakis, and the author of "Z," Vassilis Vassilikos.

"There's so much to do," wailed Mercouri. "There's a hunger after censorship. We want to do everything. And we want to do it today."

For Mercouri, homecoming was not without problems. When her fiery socialism conflicted with the conservative government of Premier COnstantine Karamanlis,s hew as unceremoniously notified last summer that her portrayal of "Medea" at the Epidavros drama festival had been scrapped. Her social comment program on television, planned as a series, was taken off the air after one performance.

But the kinetic, 50-year-old film star was not deflated, and she will play at Epidavros this year. In the meantime, she and American Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn are filming a contemporary version of "Medea" under the direction of Mercouri's American husband Jules Dassin.