The bond between a mother and daughter is one that is often written about. It is a relationship that is complex yet simple at its heart and one which Australian Greek poet Konstandina Dounis pays tribute to in her latest collection of poetry, Poems for my Mother.
Dounis has lectured on Greek-Australian literature and identity, and is one of the most vociferous advocates for Greek-Australian literature.
She is currently completing her PhD on Greek-Australian women’s writing.
In her latest offering she examines the intangible mother-daughter bond.
It is a bond that winds its way through every poem in the collection. Sometimes it is evident and at other times its presence is subtle, but it is always there.
It is at its clearest in They Walk Together when Dounis writes, “They walk together / grandmother, daughter and granddaughter, / dancing within the cyclic rhythm of life / the mother delighting in the introductions / “This is Yiayia Sophie, / and this is little Sophie…”
The poetry in Poems for my Mother is written first in English, then in Greek.
The use of both languages leaves me with a sense of Dounis’s desire to connect her mother’s life with her own and to strengthen the fabric between the Greek and Australian parts of her story.
The poems about her childhood home, one that was “not the idyllic image / presented in picture books…” and of her discovery after returning to Australia from a trip to Greece that, “something happened / as we entered Port Melbourne / we realised instinctively / that we were coming / back home,” show Dounis’s nostalgia laced with potent urgency to ensure the flow of time does not erase the past.
There is warmth and beauty in the simple language she uses to convey her story about the relationship between herself and her mother.
Dounis appears to take a journey of her own as she recounts her memories and gently, but clearly paints a vivid picture of her place as a Greek-Australian daughter and mother.