A Brief Biography

I am a private and solitaire writer and prefer that my work speaks for me.

An upbringing in Samos:

As a young child I sat by the open fire on an empty stomach and listened as my illiterate peasant grandmother exposed me to worlds of both the living and the dead: she spoke of these two worlds as if they lived side by side, and at times she would tell me that all these worlds, in the person and outside the person, co-exist in tension and have a deep longing for each other, “because everything is in love in the world.”

At that time I though she captivated my small senses with stories so that I would not feel the hunger, but now I know and I realise “that man cannot live by bread alone.”[i] She was preparing me for my emotional and spiritual journey on this tragic but also beautiful planet.

Samos - my mountain home
photo by Giorgos Logaras

Amalia was training and preparing me for life and how to deal with the crises and conflicts that life brings to all; she was training me to make the choices that were of my true nature and to follow my path, no matter how difficult it got at times. She was training me with great affection, with her stories that breathed and spoke of the true facts of life, the ownership of the self.

It was much later, when I was studying philosophy, that I discovered Plato also said , “The world moves because everything is in love” and that the greatest gift a person can give to themselves and others is to have his true autonomy, purpose, and meaning. Amalia taught me in our solitude and poverty that your character is born and discovered through your actions, through every change, catastrophe and challenge that life and others bring or take from you.

She spoke with determination and affection when she advised me “not to fear my life” but rather to take ownership of my nature and destiny. For Amalia not to have lived her life by her true design, by her heart, and her chosen path, was the same as if not being born at all.

How did my grandmother know this? She did not know of Plato’s existence, she had not read the great thinkers of our civilisation, she certainly had never read a book in her long life, as she had not gone to school.

I remember the first day at school when I was actually given paper and pencil and was being taught the alphabet. I remember her telling me, “When these people teach you to read and write, don’t you get lost in any nonsense that does not smell of life and people. Use what you learn to give life, not divide life, for they tell me that some educated people are very clever and sophisticated, and I do not want you to be clever or sophisticated. I desire you to be in your life and to follow your true path.”

As a child I did not understand my need to feel safe and protected, and yet all that she lived and taught me I put inside of me. When she was no longer with me in physical presence I ate from the seeds she planted in my heart, in my soul, in my search among fallen demons and tormented souls.

I remember one day when I was feeling rather small and insignificant in the scheme of things and wanted to know of my importance in her life and if she loved me more than the others. Amalia explained to me my importance in her life, but not in the usual way of saying, “I love you.” She used the example of her hand and fingers to show me my importance to her and her life.

“You see my hand and all the fingers attached to it? Because you are so small, you are the smallest finger on my hand. Now, what if I cut my little finger, or my little finger got hurt, would not my whole hand be in pain? So you see, you are as important as the fingers that do most of the work. You are part of my hand, part of my body, part of my life, part of my soul, part of my blood, part of all that moves and breaths in my past, present, and future.”

In later years, away from her and away from the island, while I was at university studying philosophy, I read that Plato also refers to a harmonious and caring society as a hand; if one of the fingers gets hurt, the whole hand would know of that hurt. I thank her and her electric memory which is alive in me, in all the things that life brings to me, and all the things that give me challenge, joy, and inspiration.

I still see her sitting in my writing space and smiling and shaking her head as she looks at the symbols that we call writing, as she finds me buried behind books and papers, where I travel into the world of the maker, the inventor, the child, through the exploration of the self, through writing to remain true to my nature, choices, and destiny—"amour fati."[ii] Writing is a way back into yourself, and outward to the world—to share your world with others so that “we can speak to each other and understand each other."[iii]

I still hear her telling me: “People are going to laugh at you for your ideas and incorrect ways but you must continue on your path and with your incorrect ways or you will die if you don’t.” One must remain vigilant, devoted and uncompromising to their inner voice, their original and authentic creative self, and the path that belongs to them and them alone.

From Zenovia, Penelope and Ulysses, 2012

[i] The Bible, Deuteronomy 8: 2–3 (King James Version)

[ii] Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books, 1974, § 276, p. 223.

[iii] Ritsos, Yannis. From The Fourth Dimension: Selected Poems of Yannis Ritsos, transl. Rae Dalven.  Godine, 1977.

© Zenovia 2018