This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada – Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Synopsis

A breathtaking debut about one girl’s quest for answers in a genetically and technologically advanced future.

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

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Title: This Mortal Coil

Authors: Emily Suvada

Genre: dystopian, apocalypse, young adult

Release Date: October 30th, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Link to buy book here.

 

 

My Review

Wow. Wow. Wow. Since the first page and first chapter I was hooked! What a fantastic tornado of characters, relationships, deception, secrets and the ultimate revelation at the end that brings this beautifully crafted book to such a climatic end.

It’s not just the DNA, scientific language and dystopian world but the beautiful and heart wrenching love story in the midst of an apocalypse.

This is the ultimate story of a crazy mad scientist like Dr Frankenstein, childhood lovers and futuristic technology mixed with a dystopian world tortured by a bloody plague on humanity.

I loved it! One of my favourite international YA books of the year!

Rating
5 / 5 stars

Best wishes,
Claire

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For more information:

Visit Emily Suvada’s website.

Check out more of my book reviews here.

 

 

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WONDER WOMAN: THE AMAZING AMAZONS – HISTORY & MYTH

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Hi Everyone,

I loved the buzz Wonder Woman received from the launch of the 2017 Film, which is finally out now on DVD, and now Leigh Bardugo’s new book in the DC Icon Series, Wonder Woman: Warbringer. So I thought I would write a blog post on the inspiration behind Princess Diana’s Amazonian World, but also shed some light on the ‘mythical’ and ‘real’ Amazons in ancient history.

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While at Macquarie University I studied the unit in my Ancient History major, Women and Gender in the Ancient World. I absolutely loved the course, but the one guest lecture we had from Dr Ian Plant on the History and Myth of the Ancient Amazons was a stand out. So here’s a few points on the ‘mythical’ and ‘real’ Amazons that I wanted to share.

Best wishes,
Claire

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History and Myth of the Ancient Amazons

Who they were – Ancient Greek literature

The Ancient Greeks constantly referenced the Amazons in their work.

The Amazons live near the Thermodon.  They are daughters of Ares and Harmonia, the nymph and Naiad.  The most famous are Hippolyte, Antiope, whom Theseus abducted, Anaia, Andromache, Glauke, Otrere, and Penthesileia, her daughter.  In the time of Mygdon, son of Akmon, and Otreus, son of Dymas, they plundered the neighbouring districts, riding on their fire-breathing horses, and later overran Phrygia for booty.  They were so called because they lacked one breast—for they cauterized it to prevent it from getting in the way when they used their bows, or because they did not eat bread [maza], but tortoises, lizards and snakes.  Some say that they are the same as the Sarmatian women.  [Antianeirai] means equal to or hostile to men.

Scholia on Iliad  (from 3rd C. BC on)

They were also called ‘Sauropatides’ (lizard crushers) because they trampled on lizards and ate them, or Sarmatians because they lived in Sarmatian Skythia. There is also a city Amazonia in Messapia. 

Steph. Byz. Ethnika, s.v. Amazones

 Blok, J.H.  The Early Amazons  (Leiden, 1995)IX

Then in the 5th century BCE the details changed with the Amazons:

  • They were without men
  • Aeschylus Suppliant Women play – showed them armed with a bow, which closely resembled meat eating Amazons. Meat eating meant they were barbaric. (Nice aye?)
  • Aeschylus Prometheus Bound play – they were now viewed as man-hating Amazons
  • They lived in Thrace in the north, then moved to Amazoneion – another name for Kyme, where they lived. Hekataios records the name in book IX of his work on the Aiolid.
  • They are still seen as Thracians even though they moved.
  • However, there was a real society of people who lived in this area called The Sauromataes – Scythians, who were nomadic people.
  • There are different places that have claimed to be the Amazon’s homeland.

Amazons Homelands

Amazonian Lifestyle Invented

  • Hallanikos of Lesbos and Diodorus stated that the Amazons cauterized their chest with an iron to prevent their breasts from growing. (Clearly DC comics didn’t replicate this!).

[…]they are called Amazons because they cut off their right breast to prevent it from getting in the way when they use their bows.  This is untrue, because that would have been fatal to them.  Hellanikos and Diodorus [II.45.3] says that they cauterized the spot with an iron object before it [the breast] began to grow, to prevent it from growing.

Hellanicus of Lesbos (c. 480-400 BC) cited by Plutarch in Theseus 27

  • The Amazons had children because apparently men stalked them.
  • Men liked them because they were different (like the Spartan women who were seen as ‘thigh flashers’ – love it!).
  • The Amazon women didn’t want to live with men because they were not nomadic for women’s work and they wanted to hunt.
  • They grew to be big and strong because of the climate of the region. It was suitable for them to grow and develop their physical physiques.
  • To ensure that Amazonian women were always on top they would crush the limbs of men. (Yikes!)
  • Apparently they didn’t lay aside their virginity until they killed 3 of their enemies. (An initiation rite within other tribes throughout history).
  • The Greek geographer and historian, Strabo, wrote his work Geography where he tried to make the Amazonian mythology realistic by saying that they fought with a bow, Scythian axe and light shield. And that the Amazons lived on the other side of a mountain next to the Gargarians (an all-male tribe). And apparently, every 2 months in a year, they would ‘get’ together. The Amazons would keep the female offspring and the Gargarians kept the male offspring. (Sound like a utopia to you?)
  • The Roman historican,Quintus Curtius Rufus, wrote the Histories of Alexander the Great and said that Alexander the Great met the Queen of the Amazons. She apparently spent 13 days with him. (To beget children, who knows?)

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Views from the Ancient World about the Ancient Amazons

Some notes juxtaposing the Mythical Amazons & Traditional Ancient Greek Women

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Ancient Greek Women

Race of martial women Greek women not martial
Race of women alone Greek women live with men
Men subordinate Women = subordinate
Women in men’s roles Women in women’s roles
Women care for children Women crush the limbs of boys
Don’t live by agriculture = civilization  Agriculture = bread civilization
Eat meat, lizards, tortoises = wild, matriarchy Eat bread = tamed, patriarchy
Live outdoors, not indoors Indoor lifestyle

Development of Amazons Over Time

In the beginning in Greek literature the Amazons started as equal to men then, they became warriors and fought heroes (and were defeated by heroes as well).

Then they developed a homeland on the edge of the Greek world and made a way of life for themselves. They could have represented the foreign enemy (for example Athens’ enemy was Persia), and then they became Scythian.

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Interpretation of the Amazon Myth

  1. Historical Evidence:
    Were they Scythians?
    An early iron age site in southern Ukraine provides archaeological evidence at Pokrovka. Perhaps they were the Sauromatians.
  2. Structural Evidence in Literature:
    Definition of the Self by creation of the Other.
  3. Combining Greek History and Myth:
    The ancient Greeks invented the Amazons as creatures of mythical imagination. Then the ancient Greeks met the ‘Sauromations’ and their mythical Amazons took on the characteristics of these nomadic women.

Iconography and Amazonomachy

  • The Greeks invented the Amazons so they wore Greek clothing and used Greek weapons.
  • They then developed the Amazons to wearing non Greek costumes (patterns, pants, different helmets and weapons) to show that they were Scythians, Eastern, Northern,  Phrygian, and Thracian.
  • They then feminised their warrior costume.

Amazons in Greek and Persian costume2Amazons in Greek and Persian costume

Amazonian Archaeology / Sauromatians Archaeology

  • The evolution of the Amazons is reflected in the Sauromatians culture, who were nomadic people.
  • There are multiple burial mounds in Kurgan that imitates the Amazonian lifestyle. For example, women were buried with weapons and armour, and were also buried with their husbands and children.
  • 20% of Sauromatian and ancient Sarmatian tombs have women buried with weapons (usually arrows, but occasionally with swords and spears).
  • There is evidence in these tombs showing contact with the Ancient Greeks:
    • Greek pottery – amphora 
    • Bracelet – Greek beads
  • The burial graves date from the 5th to 4th century BCE which dates well with the homeland of Herodotus’ Amazons and Scythian immigrants.
  • Dr Jeannine Davis Kimble’s research in Pokrovka in Russia identifies 3 classes of women from excavating and researching burials in this area.
    1. Feminine and Domestic = 28 burials
      • Feminine and domestic goods such as spindle, whorls, mirrors, stone and glass beads.
    2. Priestess = 5 burials
      • Cult goods such as clay and stone altars, bone spoons, bronze mirrors, and seashells.
    3. Warrior = 7 burials
      • Weapons include iron swords, daggers, bronze arrow-heads, whetstones, and a quiver.
      • 1 skeleton had an arrow found in her.

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For more information about the real Amazing Amazons check out:

Interview with Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/amazon-warrior-women-interview-dr-jeannine-davis-kimball/1473/

Amazon Warrior Women: Background

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/amazon-warrior-women-background/1466/

Interactive: Amazon Warrior Forensic Facial Reconstruction

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/interactive-from-the-archive-amazon-warrior-forensic-facial-reconstruction/1094/

Reference

Plant, Dr Ian. (August 2011). “Amazons: Myth and History.” Lecture given at Macquarie University, NSW.

Wonder Woman 2017 Film & Book

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Hi Everyone,

I absolutely loved the new Wonder Woman film by DC Comics, directed by Patty Jenkins. The setting of the Amazonian world was exquisite with the Aegean sea, the abundant mountains, the cobblestone streets, and the extreme wide long shot of the whole city and the acropolis on the mountain with the cascading waterfall – my God! I was thrown back into ancient Greece.

Even the Amazonian costumes, helmets, and weapons were perfect with the added element of fantasy. I loved it! And Gal Gadot as Diana was a star! The only two critiques I have is that I wish she had more muscle like the DC comics portray Wonder Woman. But other than that, what a champion! And the love interest with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), I honestly thought he was out of her league – ah hello – she’s a goddess! Why on earth would she want to be with a mortal man? But of course, it was because of her love for him she felt compassion and had empathy for the human race, so, I’ll have to give her credit for that. Even though, like her mother said to her, the world doesn’t deserve her.

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So, just to round up and recap, the Amazonian women in DC comics are a fictional matriarchal society (woohoo!) of ethnically diverse superhumans, based on the Amazons of Greek mythology. The Greek Gods created the Amazons and bestowed upon them the mandate as guardians to the Man’s World; their mission was providing a bridge for humans to obtain greater understanding. When the Amazons were enslaved by their charges, Queen Hippolyta led her people to freedom, and as a result, ultimately abandon their sacred stewardship.

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I’m also very excited to have received my copy of Leigh Bardugo’s new book in the DC Icon Series, Wonder Woman: Warbringer! I can’t wait to read it and delve into Diana’s story all over again!!!

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Blurb on Wonder Woman: Warbringer

The highly anticipated coming-of-age story for the world’s greatest super hero: WONDER WOMAN by the # 1 New York Times bestselling author LEIGH BARDUGO.

She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning . . .

Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world.

Alia is a Warbringer – a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer.

To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.

Best wishes,
Claire

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For more information check out Leigh’s book at:

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/wonder-woman-warbringer-dc-icons-series-9780141387376

Italy’s Invisible Cities: BBC One – Naples, Venice & Florence

Hi Everyone,

A fantastic new series of three episodes that launched this year was Italy’s Invisible Cities: BBC One about uncovering the hidden cities in the urban areas of Naples, Venice, and Florence. The episodes are presented by Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott in partnership with ScanLAB Projects as they explore the hidden spaces that have helped these great cities change the world. The programmes bring a fascinating, fresh perspective to 2,000 years of history, from the original Roman bath complex outside Naples, through the reign of the Venetian Doge’s to the birth of the Renaissance in Florence.

I’m travelling to Italy this year where I’ll be close to Naples to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum, however, even though I won’t be able to stay long in the area, this captivating episode on Naples have immersed me into the culture and hidden ancient history underneath the modern city. A must see! Even the episode on Venice and Florence are engaging, educational, and will create a sense of awe and wonderment for these beautiful landscapes where human life thrived.

Here is a trailer on the series.

ScanLAB Projects uses new technology to uncover hidden areas in these areas. In the Bay of Naples they scan frescoes underwater using sub-sea LIDAR techniques. In Venice the entire length of the Grand Canal is mapped in the only way possible – from a moving boat. And in Florence, the entire Vasari corridor is mapped in under an hour using mobile, backpack scanning.

Each show ends with an immersive experience as the presenters use VR headsets and revisit key locations virtually. This final dissection process in VR gives the freedom to explore entire locations at 1:1 scale and as miniature dollshouse replicas, offering new and engaging perspectives while you sit at home!

Check out the 360 degree virtual realities below!

Naples in 360: Italy’s Invisible Cities – BBC Taster

Using the latest 3D scanning technology, Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott uncover 2.500 years of hidden history in Naples, from its earliest Greek and Roman origins. They explore how the volcano of Mount Vesuvius both nurtured the region and exacted a terrible price on the local population. Plus, they delve into a labyrinth of fascinating underground spaces that helped build and sustain the city.

Venice in 360: Italy’s Invisible Cities – BBC Taster

Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the watery wonderland of Venice. They uncover how a city built in a swamp became one of the most powerful in medieval Europe and dive into its canals to experience how the city remains standing. Plus, they reveal how the city’s beauty once masked a ruthless secret state and a world of excess and vice.

Florence in 360: Italy’s Invisible Cities – BBC Taster

Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the romantic city of Florence. They reveal how its wonderful facades and artworks mask a hidden story of intrigue and secrecy, and one powerful dynasty was behind it all – the Medicis, godfathers of the Renaissance. Finally, the scanning team build a virtual reality 3D model to reveal how the city’s secret corridors of power were the foundation of the city’s Renaissance glory.

For more information visit the BBC’s website on Italy’s Invisible Cities: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0881gfb

Pompeii and Herculaneum – Exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum

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Hi Everyone,

Ever since I studied Pompeii and Herculaneum as part of my Year 12 Ancient History core topic, I have always dreamed about travelling to Italy to visit these heavily enriched archaeological sites. I have always been fascinated by the architecture, structure, art, history, but most importantly, the people and their daily lives of these well-documented areas.

Luckily and finally, this year I’ll be heading off to Europe again after four years, and Italy will be my first stop. There will be future posts documenting my travels at Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum later in the year.

However, I was very lucky in May 2017 to attend the ‘Escape from Pompeii: The Untold Roman Rescue’ exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum! Yes, that’s right, artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum were here in Australia!!!

The exhibition brought to Australia rare artefacts from sites from around the Bay of Naples: Pompeii, Herculaneum and lesser-known ones such as Baiae, Puteoli and Misenum. They gave insights into the lives of sailors of the Roman fleet and to the people who lived on the Bay of Naples, considered by many Romans to be the most beautiful place on earth – until the volcanic eruption of 79 AD.

Some gorgeous artefacts that we saw:

  • a Roman rostrum, used to ram enemy ships
  • a helmet from the Battle of the Aegates in 241 BC, which marked Rome’s entry as a maritime superpower
  • sculptured reliefs celebrating Rome’s naval victories
  • a military diploma bestowing Roman citizenship on a serviceman
  • trade goods from Pompeii – both workaday items and luxuries – including sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, jewellery, glassware and tableware sourced from throughout the empire
  • everyday objects preserved in the eruption, such as a loaf of bread and figs from Herculaneum, and items taken by the fleeing victims

The Exhibition is open until the 3rd of September 2017.
For more information: http://www.anmm.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/on-now/pompeii

 

Ethical Issues

In spite of seeing the exhibition, the one thing that I did want to mention was that I didn’t want to post any photos of the body casts of Pompeiian victims. I believe it is an ongoing ethical problem for us in contemporary society, if and how, we display human remains, especially if we are photographing the victims and insensitively uploading these images onto social media platforms just so that we can get ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ on these victims’ final moments in time before they died. It is cruel and crude. Especially if you are smiling in front of a camera or posing with a duck face, thumbs up, or peace sign, while human remains are behind you. It’s intentionally selfish, narcissistic and insensitive. These victims and the mood surrounding their death is eerie, harrowing and haunting.

The one thing that needs to be noted was that these human remains were displayed respectfully, which the museum and other exhibitions have done and will continue to do. However, the problem still remains that some scholars believe that it is unethical to display human remains that have already been excavated, but on the other hand, there is the other held belief that the public should have access to the stories to human remains and what they have to tell us about ancient biological and cultural aspects of human populations. This is also evident with Egyptian mummies and how they are displayed and viewed at museums.

At the Naples Museum in Italy, the displayed human remains are meant to evoke thought about the time of the event, and the changing methods of archaeology. In the past, human remains have been moved from where victims had originally died, or posed differently to capture the public’s eye and gain further attraction as a tourist destination. Again, this was insensitive and disrespectful. Nobody wants their ancestors or relatives inhumanely displayed and modelled for capitalist purposes.

With that note, the continuing excavation, treatment and display of human remains will continue in the future for scholars, archaeologists and the public as it is an evolving topic.

If you have any thoughts, please share your comments below.

 

Two Poetry Publications in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2016 Antipodes Periodical – “Lesvos” & “Metaxy”

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Hi Everyone,

I’m super excited to announce that two of my poems “Lesvos” and “Metaxy” were published in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2016 Periodical Antipodes.

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The first poem is titled “Lesvos” about the persona feeling linguistically alienated when they visit their motherland, and yearning to be reconnected and accepted by anthropomorphising the island, Lesvos. It questions the concept of home for emerging types of generations in Australia. It explores the issues of our identity, of being assimilated into the Australian culture and yet yearning to be part of (and accepted by) our cultural background even though we might be different – a common conflict amongst young Australians.

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The second poem is titled “Metaxy” which is a manifesto showing that it is permissible to be in two different cultures (as an In-Betweener, a Metaxy), even if you feel cultural displacement growing up in Australia and with the relationships that you have with others. It explores the issues of the quest for self and our identity. I decided the poem would show my own personal growth, on how I define myself as Australian-Greek, and to see the bigger picture that there is a generation in Australia like me, that I want to represent as a poet.

Both of my poems were written in late 2013 as part of my unit “Poetry Seminar” during my Master’s degree.

I’m hugely grateful for the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s ongoing support and the fact that they provide a platform and environment to write about this important material on the Greek Diaspora, especially for emerging generations in Australia.

Best wishes,
Claire

If you would like to purchase the Periodical Antipodes, you can become a member online on the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s website here, where you will receive a free copy of the bi-lingual periodical.

For more information about the publications of my two poems and to read them, please go to their official pages on my website: “Lesvos” and “Metaxy“.

And for more information about the 2016 Antipodes Periodical Launch party click here.

Fathers from the Edge Book Launch

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Hi Everyone,

Sorry for not updating in a long time. I’ve been extremely busy with starting full-time work and writing a new book. I have lots of great news throughout the year which I will update when I can.

In the meantime, I am delightful to announce that on the 12th of May 2016 I attended the Sydney book launch at the University of Sydney for the Greek-Australian Fathers from the Edge anthology I contributed my memoir to. The anthology is a companion to the book Mothers from the Edge published in 2006. My memoir was about how my father’s migrant experience has influenced my relationship with him and significantly impacted on my career goals.

Fathers book Sydney launch 12_5_16

The anthology was published late last year by Owl Publishing and edited by the wonderful publisher, Helen Nickas. I am forever grateful for the opportunity she gave me to contribute my piece to the book as a child of migrant children. It was also fantastic to meet other fellow Greek-Australian writers, writing about the Greek Diaspora.

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To purchase the book, here is the link.
You can check out other books published by Owl publishing via this link.
And more information about my experience writing my memoir is here.

Best wishes,
Claire

Dual Poetry Publications – “Name Day” in the Contrappasso Magazine & “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos” Won 1st Prize for the GACL Literary Competition 2015

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Hi Everyone,

On Saturday the 14th of November 2015 I attended the launch party of the Contrappasso Magazine’s special issue Long Distance where my poem “Name Day” was published. I was the first writer to read out their poem as I had to leave early to my brother’s girlfriend’s 21st Birthday party. My mum and boyfriend came with me to celebrate this momentous occasion. This is my first poem that has been published outside of Macquarie University. It was rejected twice from two different publications but I still kept my fighting spirit going – as a writer you learn to deal with rejection and you must build a backbone in the industry and keep persevering. I’m so grateful and humble that it was selected for this special publication! A huge thank you to Theodore Ell for choosing my poem. I found out the news in January that my poem had been chosen for publication and I’ve been eager to share with everyone.

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Also, I was invited to attend the launch party of the Periodical Antipodes of the Greek-Australian Cultural League in Melbourne on Sunday the 15th of November as I had submitted another poem of mine for their Literary Competition. So off I went, the next day after the launch party of my other poem and arrived in Melbourne where my boyfriend and I were picked up by his wonderful aunty. And we attended the GACL launch party and I’m ecstatic to announce that I won first prize for my poem “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos”!!! It’s wonderful to get recognition for the ideas about Greek-Australian identity that I represent!!! And this is only the beginning. I also love the Antipodes’ cover of the flower – it’s beautiful! The word ‘amaranthos’ in Greek means ‘everlasting flower’.

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Both of my poems were written in late 2013 as part of my unit “Poetry Seminar” during my Master’s degree. I didn’t know there was a poet in me until I started this unit – it’s refreshing for my writing, and poetry gives me the space to let me address issues and ideas about cultural displacement. The poems will offer readers an awareness about multicultural issues and the emerging types of Greek generations in Australia.

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Once again, I’m hugely grateful and humbled by the recognition I have received with my poems. I would also like to dedicate the publications of my poems in loving memory of my Yiayia Claire who died this year in August. I would have loved to have celebrated the publication of my poems with her, especially “Name Day” that expresses ideas and issues about our name.

Best wishes,
Claire

Yiayia Claire 2015

For more information about the publications of my two poems, please go to their official pages on my website: “Name Day” and “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos”.

To purchase the Contrappasso: Long Distance book, you can go to Amazon. Check out their website here.

And if you would like to purchase the Periodical Antipodes, you can become a member online on their website here, where you will receive a free copy of the bi-lingual periodical.

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Poem “Name Day” Published in the Contrappasso Magazine – Launch Party Announcement

Hi Everyone,

I’m excited to announce the publication of my poem “Name Day” by the Contrappasso Magazine for their special issue ‘Long Distance’. I’ve been waiting all year to announce the news since my poem was selected. The launch party is on the 14th of November 2015. More information about the event is available from the flyer above, and on their Facebook Page. I’m hoping to do a reading of my poem in front of the audience on the night.

Best wishes,
Claire