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Kiki Dimoula, acclaimed poet, dies at 88

TAGS: Obituary

Kiki Dimoula, an acclaimed Greek poet and Academy of Athens member, has died at the age of 88.

The cause was a heart attack, the hospital where she spent her last 20 days announced. She died shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, the announcement says.

Born in Athens on June 6, 1931, Vassiliki Radou worked at the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, from 1949 to 1973. Her husband, civil engineer Athos Dimoulas, was also a published poet, but her reputation far outshined his, despite the fact that she disowned her first collection, published in 1952.

Dimoula's reputation had been firmly established by the 1960s and, since the 1970s, she has received many awards, including the European Prize for Literature in 2009. She became a member of the Athens Academy in 2002, the third woman to be elected at the Literature chair.

"I use humor to exorcize death," she once explained. "Poetry," said Dimoula, who often invoked the memory of her husband, who died in 1985, "can make absence into presence. I call on the dead. I invoke death."

Called by a critic "a poet of emotion but not of sentimentality," Dimoula had proclaimed that "we fall in love to conquer the fear of not feeling," insisting that love is always "a matter of one person, not of two" but also calling love "a victim of our pandering ego."

Describing how she worked at an event in 2007, Dimoula said she started from the chaos of our existence and tried to impose some order. Poetry, she believed, exists: "It isn't made by poets, who are not creators but explorers, each in their own way." At another time, she had compared poetry to a person crossing the desert, hearing a bird singing, and being obliged to create a tree, so that the bird is not suspended in mid-air.

Dimoula is survived by a son and daughter, both in their 60s, and by an unconfirmed, at this time, number of grandchildren.

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