By Mary Sinanidis.
The periodical Logos was first created by the Hellenic Writers Association of Australia (HWAA) in 1992. Now in its 36th issue, the 31-year-old Association took the opportunity to pay tribute to John Sachinidis, who served as treasurer and assistant secretary of the Hellenic Writers Association.
Despite having a successful career as a Chemistry Professor and nuclear scientist at Austin Health, he also fell in love with Greek literature upon meeting his late wife, Vicki, a teacher of Modern Greek who introduced him to Cavafy, Seferis, and Ritsos.
“In the early days, I didn’t speak much and they (the other members) thought I was a serious guy and maybe even wise,” he said during the periodical’s launch at the Greek Centre over the weekend.
“But they didn’t know that the reason was because I couldn’t speak proper Greek and still can’t and I felt awe for their writing abilities as I had just started writing poetry, and in English.”
While the spotlight was cast on John’s contribution, the youngest member of the audience, another John – or rather, Gianni – caught The Greek Herald’s attention as he sat patiently in one of the back rows.
Gianni Lambrou, 12, was with his dad, Konstantinos, to support his grandmother Georgia Lambrou whose writing is featured in the periodical.
“My yiayia wrote some poems, and she said I could come if I wanted to support her – so I did,” he said.
His rudimentary knowledge of the Greek language means that he cannot understand yiayia’s poems, but he acknowledges the sentiment and recognises some of the words.
“I write a bit too, like yiayia,” Gianni said.
To ensure its longevity, the Association is counting on Gianni to follow in his yiayia’s footsteps just like The Greek Herald’s Melbourne-based writer, Christine Filippidis is following in the footsteps of her mother, Anastasia Tousimi, who also has three poems published in the 31st edition of O Logos, and her godmother’s mother, Dionysia Mousoura, with the publication of “Wave back to me (forever)” in this issue of the periodical.
Founding member, Mousoura, is proud of her daughter’s god daughter, still at the start of her career.
Beside her, Ioanna Liakakos, remembers her own early days, penning columns for The Greek Herald while also working as a librarian at Northcote Library. The association was Liakakos’ brainchild, borne from satisfying literary conversations with her friends.
“Our initial goal was to gather as many Greeks as possible to see what they were doing, to help them publish their work, to write in newspapers,” she said.
When Liakakos met with ultramarathon runner Yiannis Kouros visiting Australia soon after the creation of the Association, he suggested that the periodical should satirise what was going on in Greece.
“That didn’t seem right,” Liakakos said. “I didn’t want to criticise our country.”
Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, commended the group for keeping the language alive and heralded the journal as “a legacy for future generations” to keep the language alive. He shared the story of how he read through the older issues at the Consulate’s archives only to be amazed by the literature and poetry capturing the tale of Greek migration to Australia, from nostos, daily life and the development of the community.
The Association’s new President, Roma Siachos, said, “Regardless of how many readers receive it, it trumpets its presence through the feelings, thoughts, nostalgia of Greeks and their lives here and there, in their two countries.”
Writer/researcher Juliana Charpantidou had prepared a speech to address those present, but chose instead to read excerpts from the periodical to show the professional quality of the poetry and prose.
In a video, Greece’s Secretary General for Greeks Abroad, John Chrysoulakis, commended the Association for giving “opportunities to many members of the community to express themselves publicly,” while he pointed to more than 200 published books by members of the community writing about their “concerns, agonies and dreams”.
Emcee Odysseas Kripotos ensured there was a seamless flow throughout the event, but the real flow was that of words – Logos – as the works of older writers will be met by newer voices. Below is an excerpt by the Greek Herald’s own Christine, following in her mother Anastasia’s, and godmother’s mother, Dionysia’s footsteps:
Wave back to me (forever)
On the secret shores of youth
The sea waves crash slow, as I remember…
A younger version of you.
A younger version of me.
Dancing in a child’s “forever”.