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Antigone Kefala (1935 – )

Antigone Kefala, 1986, photo by John Tranter Antigone Kefala, 1986, photo by John Tranter

Antigone Kefala was born in 1935 at Braila, Romania, of Greek parents. After the war her family returned to Greece, before emigrating to New Zealand in 1951. She graduated with an Arts degree from Victoria University, Wellington, and subsequently completed an MA there in 1960. In the early 1960s she moved to New South Wales, working first as a teacher of English as a second language, and subsequently as an administrator at the University of New South Wales, and as an arts administrator with the Australia Council.

Kefala began publishing her poetry in Australian literary journals in the early 1960s, and her first collection, The Alien, appeared in 1973. Her poetry often revolves around the experience of alienation and difference, and the problems of language and meaning, and she has been widely recognised as an important voice on the migrant experience in modern Australia. Besides poetry she has written short fiction, novellas and novels – including The Island (1984) – as well as essays and autobiographical works, including a selection from her diaries: Sydney Journals, 1970–2000 (2008).

Poetry Collections
  • The Alien (St Lucia, Qld: Makar Press, 1973).
  • Thirsty Weather (Melbourne: Outback Press, 1978).
  • European Notebook (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1988).
  • Absence: New and Selected Poems (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1992).
  • Poems (Melbourne: Owl Publishing, 2000).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Pam Gilbert, ‘Antigone Kefala and Marginalisation in Australian Literature,’Coming Out From Under: Contemporary Australian Women Writers(London: Pandora, 1988), pp. 187–200.
  • Antigone Kefala, ‘Statements: Antigone Kefala,’Poetry and Gender: Statements and Essays in Australian Women’sPoetry and Poetics(St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1989), pp. 47–48.
  • Saadi Nikro, ‘Antigone Kefala: The Void and Its Fold,’SideWalk3 (1999): pp. 41–43.
  • Geoff Page, ‘Antigone Kefala,’ A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995), pp. 146–49.
  • Elizabeth Perkins, ‘Antigone Kefala: Interview,’LiNQ15.2 (1987): pp. 19–27.
  • Mary Zournazi, ‘By the Roadside [interview],’Foreign Dialogues: Memories, Translations, Conversations(Sydney: Pluto Press, 1998).