Instances of our analytical experience can often be detected in the art of poetry, and it is a pleasant surprise whenever this happens. These instances seem to incubate in the inside of poems imperceptibly, almost unintentionally, and with an enviable economy of means. The dimension of lack, void, and silence, being endemic in the in-between of words, is often particularly evident in the verse of good poets. Of the many Greece has produced, the recently deceased Kiki Dimoula was perhaps the one who, through her artistry, came closer than any other poet to certain insights of Lacanian theory. A very small token of this is the following fragments from her poems.

A general tenor of the entire poetry of Kiki Dimoula is the problematics of the inexistent sexual relationship. However, as much as the signifier precedes the subject producing it, the news regarding the inexistence of the relationship strikes the subject from without, catching it off guard.  Certainly, misunderstanding is inherent in language, but nowhere is this more evident and experienced more intensely than in the amorous misunderstanding. Here is the poet’s diagnosis:

That you were my enemy, you didn’t know.
Words told you so.
It was to them that love sold its tremor.
So, it came to the surface that you didn’t love me.

Yet, to love, says Lacan, means to give that which one has not.[2] Lack as such is closely connected with desire. Desire presupposes the void enclosed in every signifying articulation. Every discourse encircles a primary void, a primary silence, an irrevocable impossibility, that which doesn’t stop not being written. After all, the love letter “revolves around the fact that there’s no such thing as a sexual relationship”:[3]

The postman,
dragging my hope with his steps
brought me today again an envelope
with your silence.


I will open it with my endurance,
and with my melancholy I will trace
your unwritten words.

If therefore, discourse ascertains anything, this is the inexistence, the non-completeness of the Other, the absence of guarantee in the Other. At the same time, to speak is not only inevitable; it is necessary for the relationship with this insufficient and lacking Other to be established. And this is because language, says Lacan, “functions in order to make up for the absence of […] sexual relationship”:[5]

Say something, anything.
Just don’t stand there like a solid absence.
Choose even one word
that binds you tighter
to indefiniteness.


The words have feuds between them,
they have rivalries:
if one of them captures you,
another sets you free.


Silence does not diminish with just one word.[6]

Kiki Dimoula fell forever silent on the 22nd of February 2020. For the anticipatory periphrasis of her silence, she had been decorated with the European Prize for Literature in 2009. Her words, having preceded, outlive now the subject she has been. Right and proper praise to her art will take the literary critic. I might only be excused for objecting that, with the words of Kiki Dimoula, silence has indeed diminished.


(With thanks to George D. and Lito Mitropoulos for kindly editing my amateur translation of fragments of the poems Episode and Letter.

[1] Episode (Enos leptou mazi, Athens: Ikaros, 2010).

[2] Lacan J., Le Séminaire. Livre X. L’angoisse, Paris, Seuil, 2004, p. 128. In English: Anxiety. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book X, Cambridge: Polity, 2014, p. 108.

[3] Lacan J., Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, Paris, Seuil, 1975, pp. 55, 53. In English: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. On Feminine Sexuality. The limits of Love and Knowledge. Book XX. Encore 1972-1973. New York/London: Norton, 1998, pp. 59, 57.

[4] Letter (Poems, Athens: Ikaros, 1998). English translation

[5] Lacan J., Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, op. cit. p. 47. In English: p. 48.

[6] The periphrastic stone (Poems, Athens: Ikaros, 1998). English translation: The brazen plagiarist: selected poems, Yale University Press, 2012. I have also used the following translation: