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Kiki Dimoula by Dr Despoina Papastathi

Kiki Dimoula (1931-2020) was a Greek poet and member of the Academy of Athens. Her reputation had been firmly established by the 1960s and she received many awards, such as the Greek State Prize twice, the Grand State Prize, the Ouranis Prize, as well as the European Prize for Literature.

She published her first poem, “Shadow” in 1950 in the literary magazine Nea Estia, by her father’s name, Kiki Radou. From 1956 until 2016 she wrote and published fourteen poetic collections. Many of her poems have been translated in foreign languages such as English, French, German, Danish, Swedish. Kiki Dimoula’s poetry is a representable case of the elegiac tonality that characterizes Greek post-war poetry. The questioning and the anxiety caused by the inevitability of death are expressed in her poetry by the poetics of the ephemeral body and are the dominant motives of her writing since early production and the collection of Erebus (1956). The degradation of the death rituals, the contradiction of body and soul, the frustration of the erotic experience and feelings, the dominance of grief and melancholy, the topography of decay, the catalytic influence of time, the rejection of the soteriological dimension of the Christian myth, the appropriation of the ancient Greek myth, are some of the thematic motives that distinguish the poetics of Kiki Dimoula and the elegiac tonality of her poetry. The existential questioning is deepened in her dialogue with the arts of photography and sculpture. These motives are expressed by the poetics of death where repetition, ellipsis, opposites such as hope-despair, existence-inexistence, metonymy, metaphor and irony play a major role. Also, nominalizations, adjectivizations and neologisms are important stylistic mannerisms of Kiki Dimoula.

Despoina Papastathi teaches Modern Greek Literature at the Department of Philology of the University of Ioannina, Greece. Her research interests focus on Greek literature of the 20th and 21st century, on poetic genres such as elegy, fiction-elegy, crime fiction, on the relation of literature with other arts such as photography, painting, sculpture. Dr Papastathi’s research articles have been published in scholarly journals and she has taken part in many conferences. She is the author of Κική Δημουλά «aχθοφόρος μελαγχολίας». Ποίηση και ποιητική του πένθους, Gutenberg, Athens 2018.

Greek Writers in English

Organised by The Hellenic Centre and The Society for Modern Greek Studies every Wednesday at 7pm  from 10 February until 3 March.

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