Avgi Lilli

Cyprus

Avgi Lilli (1980) is a Greek-Cypriot writer based in Nicosia, Cyprus. She writes poetry and microfiction. 

 

She has published two poetry collections in Greek; The Slaughter of the Century (Athens, Thraca, 2018; 2nd edition 2020) and Rough notes on a life vest (Nicosia, Armida, 2011). Some of her poems have been translated into English, Turkish and Spanish. 

 

She has been one of the participants of the 2019 European Poetry Festival in London. She has also participated in other international literary festivals (4th Sardam: interdisciplinary literature festival, Limassol, 2016; CROWD OMNIBUS literary tour 2016). As a poet she focuses on the deconstruction (“distillation”) of language and meaning. Her poetry has been characterised as a refreshing feminist poetics of fragmentation.

 

Lilli writes scripts for short film productions [The Call (2020): written with Marios Prsaras (honorary mention at Drama International Short Film Festival 2020; Los Angeles Greek Film Festival), Drained (2020) written with Anna Fotiadou, post-production] as well as dramatic monologues and short theatrical plays. 

She is also interested in the multidisciplinary aspects of poetry and its interaction with visual and performance art. Her work «The poet’s alphabet book» (2018, 10X12 cm, letraset on canvas) is included in the collection Imago Mundi-Cyprus Collection Fondazione Benetton, Treviso, Italia (www.imagomundi.com).

 

She studied Classics and Modern Greek Philology (University of Cyprus) and holds a PhD in Modern Greek Philology (University of Athens, 2017).


In his review titled “Climbing the Mountain of Poetry”, delivered on the occasion of “The Slaughter of the Century” book launch, poet Yiorgos Christodoulides writes (6/2/2019):

 

Avgi Lilli belongs to the younger generation of poets, the matutinal generation that rises over our country’s poetic landscape. […] 

 

Following the instructions of her restless poetic subconscious – one that looks as though brandishing a bloody knife, eager to penetrate bodies, poems and other relevant if unfortunate masses and concepts – the poetess stages an antipoetic setting, mis en scène with the cruelty of a personal war, a bloody tribulation, designated mostly by a wealth of internal and external mutilations:

 

“I’ll chop up some words inside me”

 

“the limbs are bleeding”

 

“desire reduced to a pulp” […]

 

Whilst setting out to seek the expressive means that are closest to her heart, the means that will relay her messages most vividly, the poetess manifestly lends herself to experimentation, a trait most becoming of an emerging generation of poets in Cyprus of which she makes part. It is, in fact, a generation in process, one that spins its own web, often by rupturing the intertextual relationship with the past, and clearly keeps thematic, linguistic, morphological and stylistic affinities at arm’s length. Inasmuch as this rupture relieves poetry from deadweight whilst nodding to the bestowals conferred by the past, in a gesture that enriches instead of impoverishing our common poetic home, it is not only necessary but also axiomatically life-giving; a new generation, largely consisting of poets who, as is fortunately the case with poets, I presume to be alienated from their milieu and their workplace. Most importantly, they are alienated from a range of ideas, ideals and social quests that are at odds with their own existential needs, their purer value system and their innate need for a life of truthfulness. […] Having realized the vanity of human existence, the poet, more so the young poet, takes it upon herself to refute time, to prove that a human being can craft works that will transcend time or, otherwise put, that will oblige time to become their distributor. 

 

The result of this noble ambition will be yielded without rush, along horizons that far outstay the physical presence of the poet and the poet’s present-day reader. If this truly occurs, if oblivion is vanquished, then the centuries will bow before the fruits of the poet’s timelessness. […] I personally hold that Avgi Lilli, a member of the new, hope-bearing poetic generation, is treading on the right path. She is climbing the right mountainside, looking at the right – for her – mountaintop that keeps growing higher still, and is brave enough to look a sea of troubles in the eyes and take up arms against them. 

 

To Antonis Georgious’ question “Is poetry publicly sharable or is it more of a personal affair?” …

 

in the context of an interview, I gave in 2019, I replied that poetry is addressed speech, it has at least one receiver, therefore it is by definition offered and shared. Poetry is not something foreign or detached from us, though regrettably perceived as such. 

 

I’m afraid that our educational system, among other things, has played a decisive role in this situation. Is music or poetry detached from humans? How about theatre? We forget that in antiquity, but also much later, poetry was eminently public. Throughout different times, from classical antiquity to the Renaissance and the heyday of Romanticism, poets had been true leaders. All this changed during the 20th century, in the wake of two world wars, when the scales tilted in the world and within humanity. 

 

Again though, this might not be entirely accurate; perhaps what did take place was a simple relocation of the “platform” of expression. In recent decades, by way of various experimentations, mostly in terms of a fusion of genres, poetry seems again to try and reclaim its public role (or to redefine it?). This contributes to its renewed reception as public speech, “sharable” with its audience, the audience it appeals to. 

 

Not every expression of the public presence of poetry is successful; perhaps oftentimes the opposite applies. To strike a balance in measure is not a walk in the park. What counts most, in my opinion, is that the speech itself, the poem itself be solid without the support of extratextuality. Therefore, as a writer and a reader I would say that poetry is and must become a private affair too, in the sense of probing into the poetic discourse – a stage of fundamental importance to any poet and reader. 

 

The birth and completion of a poem is primarily a personal and sacred process.  The “personal” measuring up of the poet/reader to poetry is a basic function of this elevated art and an indescribably beautiful, transcendental experience. 

 

Avgi Lilli, “The fusion with other (poetic) discourses is always fruitful”. (Interview to journalist/writer Antonis Georgiou; Orizontas 27/4/2018