Words By Anna Bourozikas Photography by Kaliopi Malamas
Poet Koraly Dimitriadis only decided in 2009 that she wanted to have a career as a professional writer. Then a 30-year old married mother of one, she had been secretly writing a novel and writing poetry for years. Naivety about what constituted poetry, and self-doubt about her talent, kept her writing life secret from everyone but her ex-husband – until she was encouraged to come out as a writer by no less than Christos Tsiolkas, author The Slap.
“I was writing my novel when I read Loaded and I was so impressed by his honesty, especially because he came from a Greek background like myself. So I wrote him a letter, but I didn’t hear from him. And then I went up to him after he finished speaking at Readings one time. He asked me to send him some of my work. So I sent him a chapter of my novel. He offered to mentor me and encouraged me to study writing. After that, I told everyone.” The pair have been working together on her novel since then.
Creative writers usually struggle for years to get recognition, many never do. In 2011, Dimitriadis self-published a zine of her poetry called Love and Fuck Poems. The poems chronicle the end of her marriage and her anger at her strict Cypriot upbringing. The work is raw, her words unfiltered; her strong, singular voice dramatically conveys her feelings. It has been an ongoing poetry best seller at Polyester Books, Readings and Brunswick St Bookstore. In 2014 Love and Fuck Poems was picked up by a Cypriot publisher and published in Greek to praise. In 2016 it will be published by Honest Publishing in the UK.
“My marriage of ten years had recently ended and I was pretty angry – at not only myself but also at my culture and the pressures placed on me when I was younger, which led me to getting married at 22. Not having really dated before I was married, it was like I was learning who I was – finding my personal and sexual identity – as an adult of 31. I wrote it very quickly in three months. The ‘fuck’ in the title isn’t only about sex. It was also saying ‘fuck you’ to the culture and the anger I had at the time.”
In 2013, Dimitriadis successfully applied for an Arts Council grant to have four of her poems turned into short films – Wog, Best Friend, How To Get A Fuck and Love According to Wogs. It was at the launch of these films that I became aware of her film work and invited her to submit Best Friend, the strongest film, into the 2014 Setting Sun Short Film Festival official programme. Her short films are feisty. They are not traditional screenplays with a three act structure and characters; they revolve around her reciting her poems in different settings. Dimitriadis wrote the screenplays mostly by herself but collaborated closely with the director Nathan Little.
The poems are compelling to listen to. Her performance in her films is strongest in Best Friend; a restrained performance with imagery that connects strongly with the words. Dressed as a bride about to get married but really pouring her heart out, she describes the pain at the end of her marriage and disintegration of her family unit. She explores her feelings about the disappointment that her traditional Cypriot family feels about her divorce. She expresses her anger towards the ex-husband living with a new woman in what was their family home.
“I wrote the scripts for Best Friend and Love According to Wogs in a day. I had a very clear vision in my head of what I wanted.”
Dimitriadis’s work is overwhelmingly autobiographical; that’s its strength. She has been published widely in Australia’s literary media and mainstream writing sites. She is currently writing a theatre show based around her poems that she will perform at La Mama next year, as well as finishing her novel and contemplating more scripts. Not a bad effort for someone who decided only six years ago to be a writer.
Anna Bourozikas is the founder and Festival Director of the Setting Sun Short Film Festival, the largest short film festival in the west. The 2016 Festival will screen at the prestigious Sun Theatre Yarraville, April 14-17. Anna is also a writer, editor, screenwriter and TAFE teacher. She has worked widely in media as a publicist, journalist, radio and film producer.