Melbourne-based poet, Koraly Dimitriadis is taking her controversial works to an international audience when she heads to the United States next month and Poland in June.
It’s been an encouraging start to 2019 for the outspoken Cypriot-Australian, who is also a playwright and published commentator on issues relating to feminism and cultural/religious oppression: Earlier this year, she received a grant from the Cypriot Ministry of Education to take her poetry to the US and attend the American
Society of Journalists and Authors conference in New York City where she will participate in poetry performances and workshops (including a feature at The Bowery Poetry Club on April 21) and be assisted by Alexandra Kostoulas who runs the SF Creative Writing Institute in San Francisco.
Then last week, she announced on ABC Radio’s “The Conversation Hour with Jon Faine that she has been selected for the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature Residency Program in Poland for the month of June.
These exciting developments in Koraly’s career have come hot on the heels after the release of her second book at the end of 2018, titled “Just Give Me The Pills”, which debuted at No. 1 on Amazon Australia’s new releases (Australian Poetry), and achieved Top 30 status in contemporary poetry worldwide.
Acclaimed New Zealand poet Hera Lindsay Bird sang high praise for the raw, honest and confronting prose of Koraly’s raw novel-in-verse, saying “I am so obsessed with Koraly. Her poetry confuses and delights the everloving f–k out of me.
“When I read it, I feel big question marks and exclamation points spontaneously erupting above my head, which is the only correct emotional response to poetry.
“Her work is disarming, emotionally fearless and she sounds like nobody else alive. How could you not love someone who made a trailer for her first book while screaming in a wedding dress?
“I will read her poetry forever.”
Much of Koraly’s writing relates to cultural and religious repression, a very timely issue in the wake of the Pell sentencing.
“I do believe that the teachings I had in the church in my upbringing – of fearing God and going to hell if I did not follow the rules of being pure – had a terrible impact on the relationship I have not only with my body, but with men. It has taken me years to undo damage that will probably never be completely undone. I believe religion has a lot to answer for. When I think about all those children abused by religious leaders like priests, it makes me sick to the stomach, because if I struggle as an adult and I wasn’t abused, I can just imagine the pain and hurt they deal with on a daily basis.”
Koraly is currently working on her debut fiction novel, “Divided Island”, – set in Melbourne and Cyprus – exploring how our upbringing affects who we love and how we love. Koraly has received mentorship from Christos Tsiolkas on this novel, as well as a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship, and a Chantilly Arts Residency.
Recently published in 10 Daily and The Washington Post, Koraly received a recent glowing review from Overland Literary Journal for Just Give Me The Pills: “She dishes the dirt, and she’s not afraid of anything. Her writing is coming for you, so you’d better just accept it…Energetic and irreverent, a must read,” said Dr Michalia Arathimos.
In Koraly’s own words, she describes “Just Give Me The Pills” as “… based on my own experience of the trauma of divorce, and the reality of how difficult it actually is to leave a marriage – I mean, I didn’t even suffer any abuse – and it was the most challenging thing I have ever done, and the pain carries on years later, especially when there are children involved.
“There is a huge lack of support, doctors prescribing antidepressants as a quick fix in the face of cultural and religious pressures to “be normal”, and when women actually find the bravery to leave, it’s the lack of housing, it’s Centrelink making you feel like a criminal – it’s the broken family law system.
“I want to highlight specifically the dangers women face in the claws of lawyers who promise justice when the system is set up to skew in favour of the more financially well off parent, which is most cases is the father because let’s face it, care of the children ultimately sits with the mother and this is where they lose their employability.
“If we want to help women leave unhealthy marriages, we need a structure around them to support that, and we simply as a society do not have that. But in a wider context this book is about women’s voices breaking through patriarchy and speaking truths, particularly when all our lives we are taught that marriage is success.
“I want to empower women who are afraid, to show them there is a way out.”
“Just Give Me The Pills” is available now in paperback and e-book form, published by Outside The Box Press.