Kostya Tsolakis

Greekling is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation

ISBN: 978-1-913437-82-4

eISBN: 978-1-913437-83-1

Price: £10.99

Publication date: 26th October 2023

Format: Paperback / eBook

Cover artwork by Aaron Moth

Greekling, the much-anticipated debut poetry collection by Kostya Tsolakis, celebrates and commemorates damaged and rejected Greek bodies, be they of flesh and blood, made of marble, or natural bodies. In intertwining Greek culture, history and poetic influences with the contemporary queer experience, this collection is perceptive, lyrical, and deeply evocative of time and place. From an Athenian childhood to a closeted adolescence in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic, towards sexual self-discovery, maturity and freedom – Tsolakis charts the pursuit of unconditional happiness.


These poems explore queer joy on dance floors, darkrooms and bedsits, but also the risks of crossing strangers’ thresholds or in encountering the violent machismo and hypermasculine expectations of the society you grow up in. And ever-present through the collection is Athens – the city the poet once turned his back on at eighteen but has come to love again. Moving between lament and celebration, Greekling reflects on a changing and often misrepresented country, the nature of motherlands and mother tongues; it is a voyage out – and a return.

Praise for Greekling:

‘In Greekling, Kostya Tsolakis celebrates the queer, male body whilst commemorating those damaged by hypermasculinity and others lost to homophobic violence. Yet there is queer joy to be found, both within and beyond the shores of the poet’s home city of Athens. Greekling is a dazzling and formally innovative debut which simmers with an undeniable eroticism as it refuses to ‘[stand] on the margin / of what it means to be Greek’’ – Mary Jean Chan


‘A haunting, timeless and yet reassuring contribution to queer history. In a collection where language is fruit and the forgotten relics of human past are carved with such precision, we hear the rhythm of Kostya’s inimitable voice. This is a moving, cinematic book where any reader will follow trails of longing through the streets of two countries, Greece and England; all to ultimately cast the nation-state out of the queer body. What Kostya has contributed to the queer canon of the Mediterranean is immensely valuable.’ – lisa minerva luxx

‘Kostya Tsolakis’ Greekling enacts an erotics of the queer body that is as mesmerising as compelling, moving from the personal, the historical, the mythical and the political with captivating flair and precision. It is a timely song of exile and the complex relationship to country and family, on being gay and a Greek in London. There is a powerful ghazal on belonging to the gay community and a poignant poem on naming AIDS; a narrative poem on leaving Athens for England and an exhilarating song-like poem after Sappho about clubbing in the gay disco Heaven. Greekling is a captivating book that sings loud to queer love, gay desire and yearnings. As the poets himself beautifully writes in his poem marble bf: ‘I recognise you/for the curious unbelonging/thing you truly are/masc femme Hellenic/foreign a Greekling/made like me’. An extraordinary achievement.’ - Leo Boix

Kostya Tsolakis was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and now lives in London. He is founding editor of harana poetry, the online magazine for poets writing in English as a second or parallel language. In 2019 he won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (ESL category). His poems have been widely published in magazines, including fourteen poems, Magma Poetry, Poetry London, The Poetry Review and Under the Radar, and anthologies, such as 100 Queer Poems (Vintage, 2022). His debut poetry pamphlet, Ephebos, was published by ignitionpress in November 2020.

Photograph credit: Sophie Davidson

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