Kefalá, Antigone 1935-

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Kefalá, Antigone 1935-

(Antigone Kefala)

PERSONAL: Born May 28, 1935, in Braila, Romania; married Robert Kerr, 1959 (divorced 1963); married Usher Weinrauch, 1964 (divorced 1976). Ethnicity: "European." Education: Victoria University of Wellington, B.A., 1958, M.A., 1960.

ADDRESSES: Home—12 Rose St., Annandale, New South Wales 2038, Australia.

CAREER: New South Wales Department of Education, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, teacher of English as a second language, 1961–65; University of New South Wales, Sydney, administrative assistant, 1966–67; Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney, arts administrator, 1971–87. Gives readings of her works throughout Australia and in Finland, Germany, England, Malaysia, and Czech Republic.



The Alien, Makar Press (Brisbane, Australia), 1973.

Thirsty Weather, Outback Press (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1978.

European Notebook, Hale & Iremonger (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1988.

Absence: New and Selected Poems, Hale & Iremonger (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1992, 2nd edition, 1998.

Poems (bilingual in English and Greek), Owl Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Australian Poetry, edited by John Tranter and Philip Mead, Penguin Books Australia, 1991; Two Centuries of Australian Poetry, 2nd edition, edited by Mark O'Conner, Oxford University Press, 1995; The Oxford Book of Australian Women's Verse, edited by Susan Lever, Oxford University Press, 1995; and The Oxford Book of Modern Australian Verse, edited by Peter Porter, Oxford University Press, 1996.


The First Journey (novel), Wild and Woolley (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1975.

The Island (novel), Hale & Iremonger (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1984.

Alexia: A Tale of Two Cultures (for children), illustrated by Warwick Hatton, John Ferguson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1984.

Summer Visit: Three Novellas, Giramondo (Artarmon, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Sydney Journals, Giramondo (Artarmon, New South Wales, Australia), in press.

Work represented in anthologies, including Beyond the Echo: Multicultural Women's Writings, edited by Sneja Gunew and Jan Mahynddin, University of Queensland Press, 1988; Personal Best 2: Stories and Statements by Australian Writers, edited by Gary Shead, Angus & Robertson, 1991; The Oxford Book of Australian Short Stories, selected by Michael Wilding, Oxford University Press, 1994; and Heatwave, Penguin Books, 2003. Contributor to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Antigone Kefalá's development as a writer has been deeply influenced by her exposure to various languages. As a child she lived in Romania; she learned to speak Greek in Greece; and she began writing in English while attending an Australian university. Although she once understood poetry in a musical sense, she reportedly now understands it more as an architectural form that allows truth to be perceived. In poetry and prose, Kefalá writes sparingly and intensely. She endeavors to strike the perfect balance between language and meaning.

The Alien and Thirsty Weather were called groundbreaking books in terms of publications by writers for whom English is a second language. When they were published in the 1970s, there were very few serious books by such authors despite the number of people living in Australia whose backgrounds were in other languages. Readers found a unique voice in Kefalá, who is bitter but not hostile in her sharp observations. Judith Rodriguez observed in Contemporary Poets: "Taking in images as light as skeletal leaves and yet invested with symbolic weight, readers in fact learn a new language for themselves and their places."



Contemporary Poets, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Gilbert, Pam, Coming Out from Under: Contemporary Australian Woman Writers, Pandora (London, England), 1988, pp. 187-200.

Gunew, Sneja, and Kateryna Olijnyk Longley, Striking Chords: Multicultural Literary Interpretations, Allen & Unwin (North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1992, pp. 149-161.

Hawthorne, Susan, and Renate Klein, Australia for Women: Travel and Culture, Spinifex Press (North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994, pp. 125-131.

Rama, R.P., Dialogues with Australian Poets, Writers Workshop (Calcutta, India), 1993, pp. 31-44.

Rutherford, Anna, and Kirsten Holst Petersen, Displaced Persons, Dangaroo Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1988, pp. 75-82.


Antipodes, June, 2003, Michael Griffith, review of Summer Visit: Three Novellas, pp. 66-67.

Australian Book Review, June, 1996, p. 67.

Australian Feminist Studies, November, 2003, Sneja Gunew, review of Summer Visit, pp. 326-328.

Australian Women's Book Review, September-October, 1996, Loula Rodopoulos, review of Alexia: A Tale of Two Cultures, p. 14.

Imago: New Writing, November, 1992, Silvana Gardner, review of Absence, pp. 91-93.

Outrider: Journal of Multicultural Literature in Australia, December, 1984, Angelika Fremd, "Interview with Antigone Kefala," pp. 9-18.

Social Alternatives, April, 1993, John Leonard, review of Absence: New and Selected Poems, pp. 66-67.

Southerly, autumn, 1998, Saadi Nikro, "Antigone Kefala: Translating the Migratory Self," pp. 151-158.

Westerly, summer, 1998, Kathryn Buselich, "'Vast Unknown Places Within': The Landscapes of Antigone Kefala and John Millet," pp. 88-99.

World Literature Today, winter, 1994, Paul Kane, review of Absence, p. 210; autumn, 1996, p. 1037.