A poem by Danae Sioziou


Danae Sioziou


Mother called on the phone, you're not eating, second day in a row now. The perfect monster, I, asked what's happening next and across from me Antigone let fall two tears into the coffee. I took the train, a bullet, you've no idea what a pain these trips are to me. Together we lay down on the white bed, I took it out on the nurses, they accepted it, no one has such a granddaughter — you winked at me. You came to me in my sleep again on the next day. Gently drawing aside the net from the stomach, you showed me how you had taken care of the gardens: it was from you, then, that we had tumbled into the world, it's you who had made sure that one day the heart would take up all the space in here.

– translated by Panayotis Ioannidis


In these days of social distancing (is it purely coincidental that the American counterpart to the violent British spondee of “lockdown” is the lilting “sheltering at home”?), a phone call from mother is entirely acceptable — and Antigone (a friend, we presume) appears to be sitting at a safe distance. But what of taking a train and visiting grandmother in hospital? But should we be taking these images at face value anyway?

Danae Sioziou (born in 1987 in Karlsruhe, Germany) has a way of wavering between the real and the oneiric, the playful and the sinister, that is distinctive of her best poetry, as seen in her first collection, Useful children's games (Antipodes, 2016). The book was awarded both the Writers' Society “Yannis Varveris” Prize for Young Authors and (ex aequo) the State Literary Prize for New Authors; in 2019, it was published in German by Parasitenpresse, translated by Elena Pallantza and the LEXIS Group. The sequence of its sections' titles is perhaps revealing enough: “Zoo”, “Crypt”, “Crime Museum”, “At the park”: from an unnatural nature that is both appealing and repulsive to children, deep into hiding, then exposed in grandiose and macabre fashion, before returning to another celebrated locus of children's games — and dreads. History both private and public, friends and lovers, literary and other allusions, all interweave in a whirling round dance of prose poems and free verse.

D.S. was, for several years, co-editor of the poetry journal “Teflon”. Her poetry has been translated in more than ten languages, anthologised (for example by Karen Van Dyck in Austerity Measures, Penguin Books, 2016 and NYRB Books, 2017), and presented at numerous festivals and other events in Greece and abroad.

More by D.S. online in English:

Poems –

Interview –

Pictured: A detail from Rana Hamadeh's performance score of Al Karantina: De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis (2012), as presented at utters excess in between, curated by Ioanna Gerakidi and Danae Io at State of Concept. See the full documentation of the show here.