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About this poet

Born and raised in California, Eleni Sikelianos, the great-grandaughter of the Nobel-nominated Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos, received an MFA in Writing & Poetics from the Naropa Institute.

She is the author of The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead (Coffee House Press, 2013), Body Clock (Coffee House Press, 2008), The Book of Jon (City Lights Publishers, 2004), The California Poem (Coffee House Press, 2004), The Monster Lives of Boys & Girls (Green Integer, 2003), Earliest Worlds (Coffee House Press, 2001), The Book of Tendons (Post-Apollo Press, 1997), and To Speak While Dreaming (Selva Editions, 1993).

She has received numerous honors and awards for her poetry, nonfiction, and translations, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, residencies at Princeton University as a Seeger Fellow, at La Maison des écrivains étrangers in Britanny, and at Yaddo, a New York Foundation for the Arts Award in Nonfiction Literature, the James D. Phelan Award, two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing, and the New York Council for the Arts Translation Award.

Her work has been translated into a dozen languages, and she has participated in a number of international poetry festivals, including the Centre National du Livre's Belles Etrangères reading tour of France, the Days of Poetry and Wine in Slovenia, the Barcelona Poetry Festival, and Metropole Bleu in Montreal.

For many years, Sikelianos taught poetry for Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York, and California Poets in the Schools, working in public schools and with at-risk youth, as well as in homeless shelters and prisons. She has taught in the creative writing program at the University of Denver and the Naropa Summer Writing Program. She currently teaches poetry in the literary arts department at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Selected Bibliography

Make Yourself Happy (Coffee House Press, 2017)
The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead (Coffee House Press, 2013)
Body Clock (Coffee House Press, 2008)
The Book of Jon (City Lights Publishers, 2004)
The California Poem (Coffee House Press, 2004)
The Monster Lives of Boys & Girls (Green Integer, 2003)
Earliest Worlds (Coffee House Press, 2001)
The Book of Tendons (Post-Apollo Press, 1997) 
To Speak While Dreaming (Selva Editions, 1993)

In the Airport

A man called Dad walks by
then another one does. Dad, you say
and he turns, forever turning, forever
being called. Dad, he turns, and looks
at you, bewildered, his face a moving 
wreck of skin, a gravity-bound question 
mark, a fruit ripped in two, an animal 
that can't escape the field.

Copyright © 2010 by Eleni Sikélianòs. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Eleni Sikélianòs. Used with permission of the author.

Eleni Sikelianos

Eleni Sikelianos

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of several poetry collections, including Make Yourself Happy (Coffee House Press, 2017). 

by this poet

          —after Alejandra Pizarnik
A yellow scraping across my skin when
I write the word “sky”
Not sky but scything :
  	to let day be scraped out
        	 by night
I scratched down the word “flower” & felt
   the parts draw away from the tongue.
  	Not gnomon, grown*man, but ghost
Saying: One night in a cloud chamber
I discovered a thing: that a thing (I used to have a crown 
of light) a thing could be more 
than True, and more again

than False, a thing 
could carry its name

with a ticket of lights 
called Possible: In a cloud chamber, particles are betrayed
by movement and water vapors

The snow falls, picks itself up, dusts itself off
a sparrow flying like a leaf back up to its tree
The future does a backbend toward you, it's
what you can almost see, scrimmed
in the clouds which crowd the sky, elbowing, laughing

After that I see space and its influence in a bucket