Koraly Dimitriadis is a widely published and acclaimed Cypriot-Australian poet, writer, actor and performer. She is the author of the books Just Give Me The Pills (2018) and Love and F**k Poems (2012), the latter being a bestseller for the poetry genre in Australia. It was translated into Greek as Ποιήματα για Αγάπη και για Γαμήσι and published by ΑΣΤΑΜΑΝ in 2014 to rave reviews and debate, with European English and Greek rights sold in 2015 to Honest Publishing (UK).

Koraly is a freelance essayist/journalist/opinion writer and has had countless articles published across Australian news sites such as News.com.au, Rendezview, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Women’s Agenda, The Age, SMH, ABC, SBS, Ten Daily, Kidspot, The Saturday Paper, Daily Life, Junkee.com, Mamamia and Neos Kosmos, with international publications in The Independent (UK), The Washington Post and Shondaland.com.

What have you been reading?

I have been reading so much during lockdown. I haven’t read every night since I was a teenager, but now I have two books going at once. Many people in my neighbourhood leave books outside in boxes and there is also a book swap cupboard near me. I just finished The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen which was given to me as a gift, and Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. I enjoyed both.

What are you watching?

Before I read every night I generally watch TV or a film. I recently finished Big Little Lies which I thoroughly enjoyed for its strong female characters and complex themes, and Unorthodox, about a woman fleeing her Yiddish community.

What music are you listening to?

Whatever my daughter has on her iPad!

What are you cooking?

I limit takeaway to once a week so I am cooking every other day. I plan out my meals for the week and shop once a week. My mum made a homemade pizza and sent me a photo of it so I got jealous and made my own pizza from scratch. I am enjoying cooking more. It reminds me of being in Cyprus in my grandmother’s village in Kambos which is very remote and you have to plan your meals because the shops are in the city two hours away.

What is keeping you sane at the moment?

Gardening. I was never much of a gardener, but touching the soil and making things grow de-stresses me and makes me feel more connected to the earth.

My art, my writing, my family, my friends. Hope. When I’m having a bad day I tell myself this is just a bad day and that I have good days too. I try and remain hopeful of a better future without COVID. If the Spanish flu in the 1900s could be eradicated then so can COVID.

READ MORE: Life in Lockdown: Q&A with actress Olympia Valance

What is work like for you now?

Being a writer, the bulk of my work was done at home even before COVID. But the performing/acting part of my job is a real mess. I have a theatre show and it’s so hard to plan when it will happen and how it will happen. I used to tour a lot, to expand my network and opportunities, and I can’t do that anymore. I have a residency at Theatre Works and we meet fortnightly via zoom for our sessions. I finished my first novel, Divided Island, but I’m looking for a publisher now, and that’s made even harder now because of COVID. I am near completing my first short story collection too, The Recipe for sweet cherry flan, but again, I need a publisher. I received some funding from the Victorian government to make films of my poems and I have been releasing those slowly. “Most of Melbourne is depressed” is the first one, and I just released “It’s more than a game now, more than a game”, about the footy. I’m also making comedy videos with my daughter and we just released one about illegal hairdressers operating in the pandemic during lockdown.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since COVID-19 entered our lives?

Some people are much more friendlier and open and kinder. I like walking my streets and people leave boxes of lemons or books or plants they don’t want. When you are about to cross the road, cars stop for you. It reminds me of how things are in Cyprus, people do that there. In fact, I would say that Melbourne has adopted this slow-paced mentality of Cyprus a bit more since the pandemic. In Cyprus, people just cancel on people and everyone just gets it, because they just want to be free, but in Australia people are much more highly strung and focused on goals and ambitions. That mentality has somewhat distilled here. Also, it’s so quiet sometimes. Sometimes I forget I am in Melbourne and feel like I’m in my grandmother’s village, that’s how quiet it is!

READ MORE: My Life in Lockdown: Q&A with Despina Meris

What have you learned about yourself during COVID-19?

That I am resilient and that as humans we are resilient. We have survived throughout history and we must remember that. I have organised social zooms with my cousins and friends early on in the pandemic, and then a new online arts festival called ‘No I am not washing your dirty plate arts festival’ to bring women together from all over the world. I have learned that I am good at facilitating the bringing together of people, to help them feel connected. That’s what I try to achieve with my art too.

Where’s the first place you’d like to visit in Greece once travel is allowed?

Cyprus, of course. Limassol beach.