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Dimitris Tsaloumas (1921 – )

Dimitris Tsaloumas, photo courtesy University of Queensland Press Dimitris Tsaloumas, photo courtesy University of Queensland Press
Dimitris Tsaloumas

fl. 1949–present

Dimitris Tsaloumas was born at Leros, one of the Greek Islands, on 13 October 1921. He was, however, educated in the Italian language, as the Dodecanese islands belonged to Italy between 1912 and 1947. Later, he attended a school on Rhodes, where he also studied violin. In 1951 Tsaloumas left Greece for political reasons, intending only a brief stay in Australia. Before leaving, he had published two collections of poetry, one with the assistance of English writer Lawrence Durrell whom he had met on Rhodes.

Once in Australia, Tsaloumas completed his BA in English and French at Melbourne University in 1959 and worked as a secondary school teacher of English and modern languages until his retirement in 1982. After publishing six volumes of poetry written in Greek and mainly published in Greece, a selection of his work was published in English as The Observatory, which won the National Book Council Poetry Award in 1983. His first collection of poems “conceived and written in English” was Falcon Drinking: The English Poems (1988). Since then, he has published in both English and Greek and his collections have continued to win awards and critical praise.  The Barge received the 1994 Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry, while The Harbour received the 2000 John Bray Award for Poetry at the South Australian Festival Awards for Literature. In 1994 Tsaloumas was the winner of the Patrick White Award, and his contribution to Australian literature has also been recognised though an Australia Council Writers’ Emeritus Award in 2002. While Tsaloumas’s poetry is formally highly structured rather than experimental, his themes range from the classical to the contemporary.

In Tsaloumas' work Hellenic traditions are reflected in highly structured and formal poetry ranging from the elegiac to the sardonic. While regarded as the paradigmatic voice of the poet in exile, more precisely of the Greek diaspora, Tsaloumas perceives himself rather as an Australian-Greek writer. He reflects a classical poetic tradition, presenting a medley of voices, a cast of commentators on modern society. His work transcends the personal and the political and is quite distinct from accounts of migrant experiences which catalogue the minutiae of the struggle for survival.


Poetry Collections

Tropoi Galenes (Athens, Greece: Icarus, [1949]).

Paratereseis Upochondriakou (Athens, Greece: The Author, [1974]).

Anastase 1967 kai to Triptyho gia mia deftere parousia (Richmond, Vic: Albion Press, 1974).

To Spiti me tous Eukaluptous (Melbourne: The Author, 1975).

O Arrostos Mparmperes kai alla Prosopa (Athens, Greece: Icarus, 1979).

To Vivlio ton Epigrammaton (Thessaloniki, Greece: Nea Poreia, 1980).

The Observatory: selected poems of Dimitris Tsaloumas (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1983).

The Book of Epigrams (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1985).

Falcon Drinking: The English Poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1988).

Portrait of a Dog and Other Classical Bagatelles (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1991).

The Barge (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1993).

Six Improvisations on the River, and, A Song of Praise (Beeston, UK: Shoestring Press, 1995).

To Taxidi: 1963-1992 (Athens, Greece and Melbourne: Ekd. Sokole and Owl Publishing, 1995).

The Harbour (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1998).

Stoneland Harvest: new and selected poems (Beeston, UK: Shoestring Press, 1999).

New and Selected Poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2000).

Diphoros Karpos (Melbourne: Owl Publishing, 2001).

Helen of Troy and other poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2007).

Suggested Further Reading

John Barnes, ‘Notes on the Poetry of Dimitris Tsaloumas,’ Meridian 6.2 (1987), pp. 104-06.

Con Castan, Dimitris Tsaloumas: Poet (Box Hill North, Vic: Elikia Books, 1990).
Philip Grundy, ‘An Experiment with Poetry in Two Languages,’ Southerly 63.1 (2003), pp. 32-37.

Konstandina Dounis, ‘Transferrings through the Mosaic of (Literary) Landscapes,’ Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies (Adelaide: Dept of Languages, Flinders University, 2007), pp. 283-92. http://hdl.handle.net/2328/1774

Martin Duwell, ‘Notes on the Poetry of Dimitris Tsaloumas,’ Meridian 6.2 (1987), pp. 109-12.

M. G. Meraklis, ‘Notes on the Poetry of Dimitris Tsaloumas,’ Meridian 6.2 (1987), pp. 106-09.

Wendy Morgan and Sneja Gunew, ‘Dimitris Tsaloumas: An Interview,’ Mattoid no.11-12 (1982), pp. 24-32.

Helen Nikas, ed., Dimitris Tsaloumas: A Voluntary Exile: Selected Writings on his Life and Work (Brighton, Vic: Owl Publishing, 1999).

Rosemary Sorensen, ‘To Hear My Own Music: Portrait of Dimitris Tsaloumas,’ Australian Book Review no.149 (1993), pp. 33-35.

Dimitris Tsaloumas, ‘The Distant Present: Growing Up in Australia,’ Island Magazine no.18/19 (1984), pp. 62-65.

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