Following the launch in Melbourne, the LOGOS Centre, Cypriot Community of SA and SEKA will launch Andrea Demetriou’s third poetry collection The Inconsolable Clock on Friday 23 June at Flinders University.
Demetriou, an expat who describes herself as a ‘child of war’ gives voice to her thoughts and feelings spanning from the beauty and sadness of Cyprus to calling Port Melbourne home.
“I was born in Cyprus,” she tells Neos Kosmos, “but had to migrate to Australia with my parents due to the Turkish occupation. “We lost our home and had nowhere to go.”
The author and journalist grew up in Albert Park and Port Melbourne until falling in love with a Greek, which led her to Athens where she is currently based.
“I love Port Melbourne, as it became my home and I feel privileged to be able to live in Athens, to have known Greece from within and to be given the opportunity to visit Cyprus regularly,” she says.
“But, until I’m able to visit my village which is still occupied by the Turks, and enter my home, I will not be silenced.
“I will keep writing, singing, and yelling,” she stressed in an inconsolable tone.
The title of the collection, however, does not refer to her own pain as much as it is dedicated to her father and the namesake poem she wrote for him 10 years ago.
“I named the book Inconsolable Clock based on the second poem in the collection which talks about my dad who was buried here, like most Greek people do,” she explains.
“This is a very old and deep-rooted tradition that goes all the way back to antiquity. Greek people even if they have spent most of their lives abroad, they still feel it’s a foreign place.
“The house lived on even after he was gone. His things are still around in the house … there is also a clock, still ticking without him; inconsolable.”
There many issues for which a poet’s heart can feel inconsolable, she says, “from the wars for resources to the existential dead end” mentioning the many ongoing conflicts and crises of our time; Greece’s financial predicament, Cyprus occupation, Lebanon, Syria, even Yugoslavia.
The book is introduced by Christos Tsiolkas who says that “Like all true poets, Demetriou understands the dignity and profound power of the pause.”
“Take us from a Cyprus shattered and divided by the horror of war and occupation, to an evocation of the sight and sounds of inner-city Melbourne streets and then they return to us to the eastern Mediterranean to where another war, an economic war, again shatters and divides. Writing in two languages and two continents, in Cypriot Greek and in Australian English. Demetriou’s voice is that of the outsider. Her voice is born in exile and in migration, how else can she be? But if there is lament in her poems there is also a defiant and proud declaration of joy. Gamo ta panta sas agapao (Fuck it all, I love you all).
“It’s that defiance and generosity that drew me first to Andrea as a person and which makes me fall in love with her as a poet. The truth that is love and the truth that is pain being shot straight into your heart. This is the book you hold in your hands.”
Meanwhile, Angelo Loukakis, author and executive director of the Australian Society of Authors says that while you can argue there is a political dimension or desire in Andrea’s poems, that it is just one important aspect of her work.
“Rather than political, she is more certainly in the lineage of Cavafy, above all the Cavafy of loss of civic virtues destroyed. The concerns of Elytis, too, are there to be seen in Andrea’s work, she is in the tradition of Axion Esti,” he said.
Arnold Zable also praises the work.
“In her work the political and the personal are inseparable,” he said.
“Her voice rises from a space that lies between cultures, between worlds, between a stolen past and a fragile future. It is the voice of the displaced, a seeker, an activist, and a dreamer, infused with passion and artistry – the private, made transcendent and universal,” a sentiment shared by Professor Michael Tsianikas from Flinders University.
“Absolutely sublime poems by Andrea, being intuitively gifted to capture a sudden and accidental light on the dark side of the moon.”
The book will be launched on Friday 23 June at 5.30 pm at Flinders University (Tonsley Campus, 1284 South Rd, Clovelly Park, SA) by Prof Vrasidas Karalis.