Dreams of Clay, Drops of Dew is Dina Amanatides’s first book of poetry in English; although she has been widely published in Greek, both here in Australia and in Greece. Her translator Konstandina Dounis, calls Dina the unofficial ‘Poet Laureate’ of the Greek Community of Australia.
Her poetry gives voice to first generation immigrants to Australia, and reminds us of their struggles, joys and sacrifices.
Dreams of Clay, Drops of Dew is comprised of a hundred poems and a hundred ‘scattered thoughts’ that punctuate the poetry. The collection is drawn from over 600 poems and an amazing 5,500 ‘scattered thoughts’ that Dina has written over her writer’s life. I can only gasp at the difficulty Dounis had in selecting what to publish, let alone the task of translation. She has done absolute justice to the words, poetic images and feel of the poetry. One of my favourite poems in the book is Revenge. The imagery is very strong and reminds me of the great Greek poet Yannis Ritsos.
Tonight I will come. I have put on hope’s green dress I have combed my hair in the wind I have painted my lips with my heart’s blood I have anointed my body with Spring’s perfume my eyes are burning coals because tonight I want to burn you…
Although the collection comprises of many poems about the migrant experience, Dina explores other themes with the same level of insight. Her love poems (often marked ‘for Kyriako’, her husband) are deeply touching. She also writes very personally about writing itself. Other themes include motherhood, social issues and existence itself. If this sounds a little ‘heavy’ let me say that most of Dina’s poems are less than a page long, and the ‘scattered thoughts’ are often just a couple of lines. This makes the collection easy to read, to dip into and enjoy. Writing in Greek has no doubt limited Dina’s audience of readers. Hopefully now, with this new collection in English she will receive the wider readership her poetry deserves, not just within the diaspora of second and third generation Greeks (who prefer to read in English), but also the wider community.