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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 08 December 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 DECEMBER 2018 25 OPINION the worm twists hungrily/ in your wake,/ how much of my life it has eaten/ already, over-/ gorged and/ shivering in/ my perishable chest." It is from this power, the power to evoke, recall and purport to reconstruct the vivacity of life ("neither rhyme or reason holds a thousand fields of beacons to this presence of your loving heart that keeps the beat the beat of pulsing life that passes day and night") that he has equipped himself with, that the inner torture he will suffer from the use of it stems. Lost Greek Australia bears scant relation to its contemporary incarnation. It also bears scant relation to the way it is portrayed in history and the memories of others who have partaken of it. It is a "kaleidoscope of crazy is a καρναβάλι down my dimwit street." His torture mirrors that of Prometheus' undying, eternal and also impossible to relate to unless one "hangs discarded in my/ dreams, where you still/ hold that black worm in your/ heart for me to extract – a devouring/ ghost frozen – your ghost flesh/ clenched in chipped stone teeth,/ the star in your laughter..." "How trite/ your death/is / my death too..." the poet observes seemingly flippantly, about the starting point of his pursuit. His is a nonchalance that stems from discipline and rigour. The apparently effortless movement of the text is far more than a mere contrivance of recollection. The poet puts on a bravura display of differing voices and opposing tonalities, conflicting verse forms and metric schemes, a deliberate compendium of the diverse manifestations of memory which veers from coyness to savagery. This is the counterpoint of light reverie or the melancholy of mellifluous apodemic nostalgia; the hammering contempt for hypocrisy and the vanity of affectation, spoken with the authority of one invested in its passage, with the unyielding force of his moral compass allowing no compromise in language or grammar. Truth telling of this kind can largely dispense with the strictures of verb and adjective. In his expert hands, Mouratidis' words become the cloth of the Fates, intricately woven, only to be sundered at the loom, keening in vain at the impossibility of its re-attachment to anything but our own memory. Thus, for all their materiality, the poems are counterpoised within a tension of belonging, escaping, but enduring, even when purportedly lost within the material world. There is a bewitching fluency in the poet's design, a sense that the dross of contemporary exist- ence can be left behind for a floating of tortured evanescence, before we realise that our flotation devices anchor us, directly into the chthonic paradigm that informs the entire work. Past, present and future, here conflate. Mouratidis' use of the Greek throughout the collection is significant. There is none of the tokenistic or fetishizing sprinkling of Greek words to add an exotic ethnic flavour for the benefit of the orientalising mainstream palette, as blights the work of lesser Greek Australian poets. Instead, Mouratidis renders the Greek language it its proper linguistic context within Australia, wherein both the English and Greek languages are intermixed indiscriminately and unconsciously. The spelling used is often deliberately archaic or incorrect, faithfully recording the writings of first generation migrants who were not afforded an opportunity to complete their education. The misspelling of words such as «σαςαφείνω» is a telling symbol of a world misremembered, misrepresented, misforgotten and possibly, through the poet's own efforts, mis-resurrected. It also artfully a sense of contrived affinity as the poet, of another generation and social class, points to linguistic and narrative approximates in order to justify his place, beyond the wire mesh door: "I arrived here on a Qantas flight in 1978/ not a packed deck of men and women, kids against the rail, waving/ to the waiting clouds below on Station Pier,/ but I did... Their stories are my stories too..." In 'Canto 5' of Songs of the Last Chinese Poet, Ouyang Yu reflects: "your lost identity will forever pull you back/ towards the centre of chaos/ its' better to stay there/ for it's a way of life you have been used to/ like if you are used to death/ life will be a kind of torture to you." It is this salvific knowledge of the lingering mouldering suffering of Frankenstein's reanimation at the hands of the wordsmith that is our course but ultimately, our salvation. George Mouratidis' Angel Frankenstein is perhaps the most profound poetic treatment of the way we view, contextualise and efface our antipodean existence within its history while simultaneously constituting a dirge for a time and place, forever lost, yet omnipresent, placed within the ultimate dirge for the times and places lost prior to that within the mother country. As the poet urges: "Stay close to me my love,/ my heart/ until we both get dug/ in sixty thousand years." *‘Angel Frankenstein’ is published by Soul Bay Press. OPINION Chris Nikou, your greatest ally is the power of hope Melburne Victory’s Keisuke Honda controls the ball during the round one match with Melbourne City in Melbourne in October. PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/DANIEL POCKETT GEORGE KAPNIAS Last Saturday night I had the auspicious privilege of attending the Chairman's dinner at the Melbourne Victory (MV) home game at Docklands v WSW. As a disciple of old soccer (rather than new football) and having attended only a handful of A-League games in 13 seasons, I approached the stadium with a keen sense of anticipation. The last game I had attended at Docklands was MV v Olympiacos in 2012. On the night, we were reminded of the gulf between A-League soccer and seasoned, in-form overseas competition. My lasting memory of the game was the vastness of the stadium. Despite the 18,000 in attendance and the enthusiasm bordering delirium of the Olympiacos fans, the desolate nature of the stadium seemed to have an unlimited capacity to sap the energy and atmosphere from the game. The few A-League games I have attended since, have been at AAMI Park which is a far superior facility to host the "στρογγυλή θεά" – the spherical goddess – as Elias Donoudis keeps reminding us. AAMI is still not ideal, but is a far cry from the emptiness of the windswept steppe – aka Docklands. So on Saturday, I was genuinely intrigued to witness the game's progression during my extended periods of self-imposed absence. The Chairman's dinner was a jacket and tie affair. Apart from chauffeurs, who don’t wear ties anymore, particularly on a hot, 30 degree first day of summer? The things we do to keep the bogans in check, perhaps. When in Rome… The Chairman was hosting a prodigal son of the Club - ex Company Secretary and ex Director of MV and recently minted Chairman of FFA, Chris Nikou. Chris was very approachable on the night, particularly PC during his questions without notice session but less than inspiring. He was concerned with timelines and functional outcomes and there were certainly no attempts at Obamaesque oratory. I suppose that's his style. I personally wished him the best of luck and success in his role as Chairman (of the entire soccer fraternity of Australia) and politely suggested that he lap up the 'warm and fuzzies' before he starts to actually make inevitable decisions. After all, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs No matter which way the fresh, new board of the FFA tacks, it's bound to start consuming 'political capital' and earning the FFA Board its first enemies. As the start time approached, the Chairman's dinner-cumrolling advertising billboard for club sponsors, went into recess. Apparently, there was a soccer game about to start. As in 2012, despite the 20,000 in attendance, the game felt distant, remote and the atmosphere sanitised. It was immediately evident that MV was by far the more accomplished outfit. To be frank, WSW were dreadful – no fight, no spark and completely out of their depth. Honda, Baena & Co were a class above and at half time it was a resounding 3-0. Thank goodness for the goals. Pigeonholed in our awkward, less than economyclass style seats, it seemed to bring the moribund spectacle to life. And that's what I miss most about old soccer – the intimacy. Is it just me, has the world moved on and I have stood still (and yes, I do understand that the answer to both these rhetorical questions is in fact, yes), or is it really just an overwhelming privilege to have experienced old soccer in its raw format? In an era when you smelt the ground before getting past the turnstiles. The welcome of the Valkanis' family 'psistaries' wafted across the Middle Park carpark with a warmer embrace than any perfumed blond hostess at any Chairman's function could even hope to emulate. You stood on the outer – shared the cold, wind and rain with the players. After all, you were at the soccer. You shouted, screamed, abused without fear of reprisal - as long as you didn't show yourself to be a soccer ignoramus. Only then would you incur the wrath of the crowd. Today, it's the opposite. You would meet dozens of friends – mates form Greek School, from junior soccer, from the 'silogo', relatives but mostly the regular soccer-goers like yourself. It was great. The recent games that most captured that energy, warmth, welcome and intensity of days gone by were both FFA Cup semi/quarter finals. One was at Olympic village when Heidelberg hosted Melbourne City in 2015 and the other was South v Sydney City at Lakeside last year. Standing in the outer you shared learned witticisms, insightful observations with the anonymous fan next to you – but they also were hardened, old, soccer nuts. At Olympic Village, Melbourne City had their fans – 500 'teenage hipsters' - huddled like a security blanket, next to each other at the extreme opposite end of the ground. I know that (in the end) Mooy destroyed Heidelberg 5-0. That's missing the point. Heidelberg had a chance, were given hope and on a cold winters night midweek, managed to rouse the interest of 10,000 fans – true, die hard, soccer fans, including thousands of neutrals – to the cause. It was the same at Lakeside last year. When it was 2-1 and South had a shot from half way that almost went in, the fans felt that primal instinct rise within – David could slay Goliath. What was it that made each occasion possible? It was none other than the power of hope. And to be able to hope, you have to first feel welcome and be included. And that has been without question, soccer's greatest achievement over the past decade, the inclusiveness of the FFA Cup. As we approach 12 December, when the FFA announces certain outcomes, let's hope that high up on Chris Nikou's functional check list for new entrants to the A-League are passion for the sport, a democratised warm embrace for those who have felt 'new football's' disdain and the basic entitlement of every soccer fan in the country – hope. Australian soccer deserves no less.
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