Kiki Dimoula wows crowd at Megaron

Poet Kiki Dimoula wowed the fans that had waited in long lines in the street outside the Athens Concert Hall on Monday to hear her speak. Warm, intense, frank about her fears of death and sorrow, Dimoula has a large popular following. Her work has also won critical acclaim – the Second State Award for Poetry in 1972, the State Poetry Prize in 1989, the Athens Academy’s Ouranis Prize in 1995, and its Aristeio in 2001. She became a member of the Athens Academy in 2002. Comparative literature specialist and France Culture contributor Giorgos Archimandritis led the discussion, with questions to Dimoula and readings from her work, followed by questions from an audience who didn’t want to leave. In person Dimoula displayed the mix of humor and sadness that are the keynotes of her poetry. «I use humor to exorcize death,» she explained. «Poetry,» said Dimoula, «can make absence into presence. I call on the dead. I invoke death.» Asked if poetry «helps do away with death,» she replied: «Yes, as long as you’re writing a poem, but not afterward.» A poet of emotion but not of sentimentality, Dimoula appears to cherish no illusions: «We fall in love to conquer the fear of not feeling,» she declared, insisting that love is always «a matter of one person, not of two.» Describing how she works, Dimoula said she started from the chaos of our existence and tried to impose some order. Poetry, she believes, exists: «It isn’t made by poets, who are not creators but explorers, each in their own way.» The event was the first in a three-part series, Greek Poetry Today, curated by poet and professor Nasos Vagenas for Megaron Plus.