The life of award-winning poet Dimitris Tsaloumas has come to end. The 94-year-old died on Thursday in his birthplace of Leros, Greece.
Born in 1921, Mr Tsaloumas was born during the Italian occupation, which saw him educated in Italian before continuing on to Rhodes to pursue further study.
As a young adult, he took part in the resistance during the Italian and German occupation of Greece, eventually leading him to migrate to Australia in 1952 due to political persecution.
In Melbourne he earned a living as a teacher, and after over a decade of silence recommenced writing and publishing his poetry.
But it was in 1983 that his work was brought to the attention of English readers, after a selection of his pieces were published in a bilingual anthology of poetry entitled The Observatory.
This then saw the poet go on to write and publish Falcon Drinking, his first of seven books of poems written in the English language.
In an introduction written by Philip Grundy OAM, a translator who worked closely with the late Tsaloumas, he notes: “Among the post-invasion cultures that we now enjoy, perhaps none is more hardy than the Greek; and no pioneer has done more to make us aware of it than Dimitris Tsaloumas.
“To be sure, he was preceded by a widespread enjoyment of Greek food, music and dancing, but Tsaloumas showed us how to plumb the depths of the Greek psyche and its basis in literature.”
His significance in the Australian literary scene was cemented a number of times through accolades including the National Book Council Award (1983), Patrick White Award (1994), and an Emeritus Award from the Literature Board of the Australia Council for outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature (2002).