Poet Komninos is one of the most original voices in Australia. Outspoken, Komimnos has for the last 30 years laid a new and fresh way for ‘Australians’ to re-interpret themselves.
What is your name and line of work?
My name is Komninos Konstantinos Zervos, and I am a poet.
Where were you born?
I was born in the Bethesda Hospital in Richmond, Victoria, a very Irish suburb in the 1950s. My family had a cafe/fish shop, we lived above the shop.
Where in Greece do your ancestors come from?
All my ancestors come from Kastellorizo (Megiste). The thirteenth island of the Dodecanese in Greece. My maternal grandfather came to Australia in 1908 as a twelve-year-old, my father came in 1936 as a 15-year-old.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have retired from teaching and working on consolidating and digitising all my writings. I do the occasional performance of my poetry and spend more time in the garden. I spend time contemplating a future life for a submerging artist.
How has your upbringing influenced what you are doing now?
The many bicultural dilemmas faced as a teenager and young adult led me to writing poetry, which led to my career as a poet and teacher.
Apart from your family, what other Greeks have influenced your life?
Jimmy Londos and Spiros Arion- both wrestlers- were the only role models in popular media that I had as an adolescent.
Have you been to Greece?
I’ve been to Greece three times. The first time with a NUGAS student tour in 1976, with my wife in 1978 and with my children in 1998. I spent most of the time on Kastellorizo.
What advice would you give your Greek cousins?
I do not have any Greek-cousins as all my family is in Australia. I would advise my Greek-Scottish, Greek-Jewish, Greek-Vietnamese, Greek-Cambodian, Greek-English , Greek-Swiss-Australian cousins to pursue what makes them feel good and happy in life, to value their family and to stand up for what they believe.
What is the piece of ancestral knowledge you still remember to this day?
“Pita ‘mbros kai pita piso, avgo exo na miliso” which was a Kazzie saying my grandmother Panagiota would use. The story is about a young girl who liked to chat. She worked in a bakery and would stop and talk to anyone who passed, consequently the bread was late. To remedy the problem her parents made her bake in the nude so she couldn’t go out and talk and so the saying, which basically means if you want to do something bad enough you’ll find a way.
What is your favourite Greek food?
Calamari that has just been caught, chips freshly fried, horta picked from the mountain, sitting at a table beside the harbour on Kastellorizo.