To the Reader II

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Dimitris Tsaloumas
(translated by Philip Grundy)

If when you walk through the mist you notice birds
ablaze like pomegranates
in the window and on the bearded roof of winter,
if sometimes the dark tunnels
let you out onto the balconies of the Amazon
to see without fear flesh-eating leaves
swallowing alive the straying beams of the sun,
and if your rights are trampled
or for your country’s sake you’re led away
to gaol and see how blood sets fire
to the wilderness in the people’s eyes,
then know that you’re indebted to me, that if you doff
the music I clothed you in, the shudder will crack you,
the mists will flood you, and you’ll perish.

© Dimitris Tsaloumas
The Observatory, p. 167
the original in Greek is here

An afternoon with Dimitris Tsaloumas

Tsaloumas Dimitris

By Tsaloumas Dimitris

Dimitris Tsaloumas was born on the island of Leros in 1921. He grew up under the Italian occupation and later ran messages for the Greek resistance against the Germans.

In 1952, persecuted for his political beliefs, he left Greece for Australia. After a decade and a half of silence he began publishing his poems again in Greek and then in 1988 published out Falcon Drinking, his first book of poems written in English.

He has published seven volumes of poetry in Australia, and since his retirement from teaching, he divides his time between Melbourne and Leros. Among the many prizes he has received for his writing are the National Book Council Award (1983), Patrick White Award (1994) and an Emeritus Award from Literature Board of the Australia Council for outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature (2002).