If you had the chance to meet her, Effie Mihopoulos was hard to forget. A warmhearted, enthusiastic human, she had an effusive and effervescent spirit.
When she passed away on January 14, 2010, the world lost a poet, publisher, writer, dance critic, theatre critic, anti-war activist and overall promoter of the arts. A muse. And the much-loved Theater & Dance Coordinator for the Bucktown Arts Fest.
Effie was a pioneer in the Chicago arts scene and beyond. She loved art in all its forms, though she had a special soft spot in her heart for dance. As a young woman, Effie studied dance and eventually started her own dance magazine Salome in 1975. Ten years later, her publishing company, Ommation Press, published Cornelius Eadie’s second poetry collection, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, which received the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in New York. It was the first time such a prestigious award had been given to a book from a small, independent press.
Effie was a member of Chicago’s prestigious Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee, also working with the Chicago Artist’s Coalition and the Chicago Sun-Times. In the 1990s, she coordinated a poetry performance arts series known as “Babel,” funded by grants from the Illinois Arts Council. Effie’s published books of poetry include The Moon Cycle, Pastel Words, and Languid Love Lyrics. Her poetry, fiction and art have been published in over 200 small press magazines in the U.S. and Europe. She was nominated 5 times for Pushcart Prize and was a valuable contributor to the Women and Labor History Project. She was a DJ and cultural commentator for NEIU’s 88.3 FM, interviewing many artists across the disciplines.
Today, Effie’s work has been graciously archived at the Newberry Library for future generations. While her artistic accomplishments were great, it is not why our hearts hang heavy. For my own family, she was “Auntie Mame,” who would whisk myself and my children off to a performance with a moment’s notice, where we would be transported into other worlds.
To honor her memory, the Bucktown Arts Fest has created both a scholarship award and a Best in Show: Theater & Dance prize which will help her legacy live on for years to come. – Cathleen Schandelmeier