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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 December 2015
14 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Against Meeting Koraly Dimitriadis, the good NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU What makes a woman who spent 30 years ticking all the boxes that come with the 'good Greek girl' stereotype throw everything out the window and go on the most provocative and confronting poetic rampage? Love and Fuck. Koraly did not just wake up one morning and decide to fuck up her perfect little reality. Koraly decided she loved herself enough to allow her personal truth to be expressed. She gave vent to her feelings. She did not embarrass herself. She chose not to be embarrassed. She realised she was normal, yet 'normal' is such an overrated word. "Being a woman, writing about such controversial things, makes you wonder if you are well in the head sometimes," Koraly says, laughing. "Especially when everyone around you is like, 'what's wrong with you, why can't you just be normal?’" The first time I saw Koraly, it was a few years ago in Cyprus. By accident, while picking a friend up from a venue. I saw her on stage bursting with rage, almost like a volcano. I saw an angry woman talk about sex, in the most awkward - in my sense - way. A woman struggling to express her Australian 'coloured' psyche with crippling Greek-Cypriot words. I did not get it at the time. I thought she wasn't normal. Best-case scenario, she was a repressed conservative woman from a village, putting on a 'liberated' feminist act with an English accent. That performance stayed with me for a while, made me ponder. "Poor woman," I thought. "It's sad that her own words seem to be hurting her so much … almost as she doesn't own them." I harshly criticised her performance in a long debate about people in the arts who fail to deliver their message. "Her lines make perfect sense but she makes it seem so hard, when it's only so natural. Too much unnecessary violence." But Koraly delivered her message flawlessly. "Both my parents came from really poor villages," she explains. "Like most migrants in Australia, they sacrificed their desires to give their families a better life. 'Our children are going to have secure jobs because we didn't. Our children are going to be doctors, lawyers and accountants’, they said. "When I went up to them and Who is Koraly? Koraly is the author of the controversial poetry book Love and Fuck Poems, which was translated into Greek as ÐïéÞìáôá ãéá ÁãÜðç êáé ãéá ÃáìÞóé and published by ÁÓÔÁÌÁÍ in 2014 to rave reviews and debate, with UK rights sold in 2015 to Honest Publishing. Koraly is also preparing a full-season theatre show for 2016 based on Good Greek Girl, directed by Paul Capsis. She is mentored by Anna Kannava and Christos Tsiolkas. In 2014 she produced, wrote, co-directed and acted in a series of four poetic short films, The Good Greek Girl Film Project, funded by the Australia Council. Koraly has completed acting courses with directors Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly), and Alexis Vellis (The Wog Boy) and has acted in other short films. Koraly is represented by Australia’s leading talent agency, Profile Talent Management, for acting, film and television, and by Curtis Brown Literary Agents for writing and theatre. Purchase book from: www.outsidetheboxpress.com announced that I was going to be an artist, their world crumbled." Koraly has, since she can remember herself, been creative in this way, but had never been encouraged to pursue her goals and explore her desires. "I guess, like several other minorities, Greek diasporans struggled to preserve their cultural heritage," she says. "They had, however, moved so far away from home, making it impossible to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving reality of Greece. Especially people who left at a young age or without having received proper education, they are captives of their 1940-1950 mindset." For fear that she would lose her Greek identity, Koraly's parents brought her up with strict Orthodox values, infused with well-intended yet flawed perceptions, filling her soul with guilt even from an early age. She was not allowed to mention 'sex', watch romantic movies on TV. She was not allowed to have a boyfriend. She had to remain a virgin until the day she'd leave the family home, holding a marriage certificate. "Each time I tried to express an interest in something different or artistic my family would be like, ‘go back to your studies and stop talking rubbish’." "And that's exactly what I did," she admits. Even though she had 'outed' her artistic nature, she went on to pursue a double degree in accounting and computing. She found a wellpaid job and got married. As expected. As she was told. Happiness, however, was nowhere to be found. Life went on, almost neurotically, until her perfectly-moulded reality started crumbling. The foundations of her marriage were shaking, she had become a mother, yet she felt unable to define herself. And how can one mother bring another young woman into this world and teach her to be proud of herself if they haven't faced their own demons? "It took me 30 years to burst out of that bubble and find the courage mainly in myself to say: 'You know what? I don't want to be married. I don't want to be religious and I don't want to be a computer programmer'," Koraly says. "That was when I did a diploma in professional writing and editing to become a poet. I thought that I had to go to uni and again follow rules." The good Greek girl asked her then poetry teacher at RMIT TAFE, Ania Walticz, to teach her the rules.
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