Antigone Kefala was born to Greek parents and grew up in Romania but moved to Greece after World War II. After three years there, the family emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand in 1951. In 1958 she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1960 a Master of Arts degree in French literature from Victoria University, Wellington. In Australia she has taught English as a second language, worked in a library and served as an arts administrator with the Australia Council.
Kefala has read from her work on ABC Radio National and given numerous readings around Australia and in the United Kingdom, Kuala Lumpur and Prague. She has contributed poetry to several literary journals and collections, and in 1972 she translated from Greek to English a long poem, Men for the Rights of Men Rise: A Poetic Manifesto, by the Greek politician and poet, John Koutsocheras (q.v.). When asked about her relationship to Greek language, Kefala has said: 'I originally learned Greek from my grandmother when I was very small, but then I forgot it and I learned it again as an adolescent in Greece. So Greek was a "learned" language - Rumanian was my first language, French was my second language and Greek my third. English was my fourth' (Helen Nickas, Migrant Daughters, p. 225).
Kefala has been a member of the Australian Society of Authors and after her retirement began writing fulltime. As well as the works recorded here, she has edited Ethnic Arts Directory (1978) and Multiculturalism and the Arts (1986).
'Antigone Kefala is one of the elders of Australian poetry, highly regarded for the intensity of her vision, yet not widely known, on account of the small number of poems she has published, each carefully worked, each magical or menacing in its effects. Fragments is her first collection of new poems in almost twenty years, since the publication of New and Selected Poems in 1998, and possibly her last. It follows her prose work Sydney Journals (Giramondo, 2008) of which one critic wrote, 'Kefala can render the music of the moment so perfectly, she leaves one almost singing with the pleasure of it'. This skill in capturing the moment is just as evident in Fragments, though the territory is often darker now, as the poet patrols the liminal spaces between life and death, alert to the energies which lie in wait there. And such energies! "Up, in the blue depth / a bird cut with its wings / the light / such silk, that fell / and rose, heavily, / singing through the air.' (Publication summary)