We congratulate Antigone Kefala for being shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry with her poetry collection, Fragments.

Judges’ comments

Antigone Kefala’s Fragments is a searing enactment of memory. Time demolishes us all in little doses, so the poet contends, but the past is “a poison / we thirst for”. Shards of memory conjure the world in various states of evanescence: dreams evoke empty rooms in old houses, the floorboards gone, even the walls are thinning to mist – here and there the cry of birds pierce the enveloping silence.

We, like the poems, may “sink in light, disappear in silence”, but Kefala bids us to recall the “glossy beings” of our younger selves who head into the future innocent to what awaits us.

Kefala astounds with imagery that is intense, unsettling and always unexpected: at dusk in the coastal town of Derveni on the Peloponnese peninsula, fishing boats are “massive dark stones / planted / in a field of moonstone”. Light, fire and flowers are recurring motifs, as is the theme of “self-sufficiency”, which in the fierce austerity of Kefala’s mind finds its ultimate embodiment in death.

Fragments is a wonder of minimalism in which we find ourselves, like the poet, dancing in memory rooms growing bigger and bigger. It is a major work by a senior poet whose poetry continues to fascinate.

Fragments
Antigone Kefala
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