‘Kinaesthetic Grace’: A video poem by Angela Costi and Faezeh Alavi

Also in the Embroidery of Old Maps and New Project

Making Lace      Shelter      Routine of Space

Kinaesthetic Grace – the fourth film of An Embroidery of Old Maps and New project.

Film editor – Faezeh Alavi
Poem and voice – Angela Costi
Photo – Eleni Costi
Film score – Alana Hunt and Sofia Chapman of VARDOS
Film footage of Bonds clothing workers from Work on the Line: the women who made Bonds
and King Gee, TCFUA, 2011, filmmaker Russell Hawkins, producer Helena Spyrou
Funding support – City of Melbourne, COVID19 Arts Grants
Host – Greek Australian Cultural League (GACL)

During the various stages of restrictions and lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, GACL  cancelled its art exhibition and poetry event, titled Connection. Angela Costi was scheduled  to feature reading a series of poems to a live audience. Kinaesthetic Grace is informed by  Costi’s 75-year-old mother’s working life and was written pre-COVID19.

From Costi’s journal during Stage 3 restrictions: In recent months, perhaps due to increase anxiety with COVID19 restrictions and being unable to visit her sister, go to Church or hug her grandchildren, Eleni’s hands are quiet. We sip our briki coffee or tsai with milk and honey and work out ways to live without touch. There’s her default story; the one that makes her hands twitch when she’s in the thick of telling. At one point, they become the needle of the sewing machine as she recounts how she began working at the clothing factory when she was 13.

‘Kinaesthetic Grace’ published in StylusLit, Issue 7, Feb 2020.

Kinaesthetic Grace

This woman talks to me with her hands
she always has, since birth
I have failed to grasp them.
I have followed the voices and text
I’ve found outside the home,
words on pages in whatever language, discipline or culture
bound by libraries,
left this woman to create her own story
with soil and seeds, flour and salt,
a cloth, a needle, a pot, an oven…
her fingers are an alphabet
I had no patience for.

This is the woman who knows how to hold
with her lined and stained hands
the story of all those other women
we service with a system of pay-outs,
those women of colour on the General Motors assembly line
playing the conveyor belt like an instrument
they will never learn,
those Hispanic women wearing paper masks as they spray
jeans and their lungs into shreds,
her fingers twitch when they tell
of the Thomastown factory’s sewing machine
stitch by never-ending stitch
bleeding before a stop for break
the dip and throb of migraine fighting quota.
This is the woman
silenced by statistics.

We must search for her
not in photo albums nor newspapers,
we must go out to the wild woods
where there are trees left to grow old,
like hunting for prized truffles
we must smell, touch, taste,
and when we see her
hold out our hands
as children willing to learn.


Faezeh Alavi is an Iranian filmmaker, actress and graduate of Theatre Directing from Sooreh Art University, Tehran, with a Master of Arts in puppet theatre. Since 2016, she has resided in Melbourne, Australia. She has directed over seven short films, two of which won awards from Greenmefilmfestival, Greenfestival, Veterans Film Festival and the Aswara Film Festival in 2016. Her short film, The Private Part, was screened at the St. Kilda Film Festival 2020.

Alana Hunt and Sofia Chapman (VARDOS) are renowned musicians for playing folk and Romany music, which they have learnt directly from Roma (Gypsy) musicians during their Eastern European travels. They have played in major music festivals across Australia and overseas, featured in films, television and radio; been nominated for the BBC Radio 3 World  Music Awards and Aria award finalists. They have provided film scores for a number of plays and short films, including The Private Part. https://www.vardos.com.au

Angela Costi is the author of four poetry collections, eight plays and a community arts book,  Relocated. Influenced by her Cypriot heritage, travel and migration have been part of Costi’s  writing history. In 1995, she received a travel award from the Australian National Languages and Literacy Board to study Ancient Greek Drama in Greece. In 2009, she travelled to Japan with funding from the Australian Council for the Arts to work on an international collaboration involving her poetry and Japan-based, Stringraphy Ensemble. https://www.facebook.com/AngelaCostiPoetics/

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