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Effie Harriet (Efstathia) Mihopoulos

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Mihopoulos, Effie (Efstathia) Harriet (born to Andrew and Koula Mihopoulos) February 15, 1952-January 14, 2010, Poet, publisher, writer, dance critic, theatre critic, anti-war activist, promoter of the arts. She is survived by her cousin Catherine Valsamoulis, and a non-blood relation Mary (Gitam) Burns, both of Chicago. She also has a cousin named Effie in Michigan and other relatives in Greece. Born in Chicago, she moved to Greece when she was nine or ten and returned around age 16. As a student at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, she became a protegee of the poet Ed Dorn and eventually her work (which included poetry, works of fiction and artwork) was published in over 200 small press magazines and anthologies. After receiving her M.A. in Literature from NEIU in 1974, she started her own dance magazine (Salome), along with her own publishing company (Ommation Press), in which she published over 40 books of poetry and fiction. One of those, Cornelius Eady's first book, won the 1985 Lamont Poetry Selection by the Academy of American Poets in New York. Her attendance at all types of events, including Art Openings, was a given – and she often attended as many as three or four performances in one day. She read copious amounts of poetry and fiction, as well dance biographies. Her judgment of a performance was really astute, as was evidenced by the fact that eventually she was nominated and accepted as a member of the Joseph Jefferson awards committee in Chicago. She served on that committee for several years before getting a full-time job at the Chicago Artist's Coalition. After a short stint there, she ended up working at the Chicago Sun-Times for three years. Ironically, her position there was not related to the arts, but was as an Assistant in the Real Estate Advertising Department. In the past, however, she had written freelance articles, interviews, reviews, etc. for various publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times. She had also written for the Chicago READER, Stagebill, This Month on Stage (New York), New City and the now defunct Letter eX (Chicago's Poetry Newsmagazine), among others. Her wish to promote other artists also led her to create programs, panel discussions, poetry readings and performance art. She started a poetry reading series which featured three people with the same first name, which she held at various venues throughout Chicago. Her performance art program "Babel" featured many people performing different art forms at the same time while the audience went from performer to performer. It was seen at several venues, including the Chicago Cultural Center. She received numerous grants, awards and fellowships for her programs and also attended conferences held by organizations to which she belonged, such as the Music Critics Association conference. She also occasionally taught creative writing through the Chicago Public Library and senior citizen sites, including nursing homes. Unbeknownst to many people, as a young woman she took dance classes in Dunham technique, modern dance, African dance, Flamenco dance and even some ethnic dance at the Asia Society in New York. She recognized Bill T. Jones' talent early on and spent some time staying with a friend in New York going to see the Ballet and other dance performances. Although she had traveled extensively in her youth, she eventually focused all her energy on the arts community in Chicago. In the last few years, she spent time doing interviews that were aired on the show she had at WZRD radio station at NEIU. She also spent the last ten years as Volunteer Coordinator of Theatre and Dance at the Bucktown Arts Fest, held every year in August. All of these activities brought her in contact with numerous individuals involved in the Arts and she had extensive contacts with whom she was friendly. Much of her work will be donated to the Newberry Library. For information on the two Memorials being planned the first weekend in March, please email [email protected] and RSVP after receiving the info. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Andrew Mihopolous Scholarship Fund at NEIU or to the Arts Organization of your choice.
Published in Chicago Sun-Times on Feb. 21, 2010
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