Chapter 16 The Elegiac Poetry of Kiki Dimoula and the Visual Arts

In: Grief, Identity, and the Arts
Despoina Papastathi
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Grief and mourning for the loss of a person are expressed through the poetry known—since Greek antiquity—as elegy. The development of the genre in the 20th century is related to the two World Wars and the hecatomb they caused, explaining verses like T. S. Eliot’s “every poem an epitaph.” Modern poetry of mourning is an art of loss in the center of which prevails the anti-consolatory elegy. The double role of elegiac poetry as a private and at the same time public utterance of mourning finds an excellent expression in Greek post-war poetry and more specifically in the poetry of Kiki Dimoula (1931–2020), a Greek poet and a member of Athens’ Academy. Her poetry is dominated by death and the feeling that “time is running out,” as she successfully carries out poetic pathways of ephemeral awareness. Her existential questioning deepens in her dialogue with the visual arts. She uses photographs as memento mori and creates a space for the poems’ speaker’s elegiac personal mourning by “emptying” the sculptures or the paintings of meaning, occupying this space with her individual interpretations, turning poetry into process and ritual of mourning.

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Grief, Identity, and the Arts

A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Expressions of Grief

Series:  Death in History, Culture, and Society, Volume: 1


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