Eleni Sikelianos

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Eleni Sikelianos
Eleni Sikelianos -June 2018
Alma materNaropa University
Spouse(s)Laird Hunt
Children1 daughter
RelativesAngelos Sikelianos (great-grandfather)

Eleni Sikélianòs is an American experimental poet with a particular interest in scientific idiom.

Early life[edit]

Sikélianòs is the great-granddaughter of the renowned Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos, a former candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was raised in California. She graduated from the Naropa Institute with an M.F.A.


Sikélianòs taught at Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York City and teaches Literature and Bard College's Clemente Program. She co-ran the Wednesday Night Readings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project in St. Mark's Church. She teaches at Naropa, and the University of Denver,[1] where Eryn Green was one of her students.[2]

Her work has appeared in Grand Street, Rattapallax,[3] Sulfur, Chicago Review, and Fence. In an interview she gave with the California Journal of Poetics, Sikelianos discusses how zoology, cell biology, and marine biology became important to her early poetic sensibility. She cites Lynne Margulis’ work in evolutionary symbiosis and the work of D’Arcy Wentworth Thomas as influential."[4]


This fall Eleni Sikelianos has come out with two new books, The California Poem (Coffee House Press) and The Book of Jon (City Lights). Sikelianos’s capacity to tune her writing instrument to greatly different projects is attested to not only by the genre of each work (The California Poem is a book-length poem and The Book of Jon is a (mostly) prose memoir), but also by the way that the two books look. The California Poem is, like its namesake states, large; it is 7 x 8 ½ inches in dimension, 200 pages in length. The Book of Jon, on the other hand, is quite small; it fits nicely into the back pocket of a pair of jeans. These differences are telling, for The California Poem is a great big epic, The Book of Jon an intimate family history.[5]

Eleni Sikelianos declares her collage poetics a third of the way into her patchwork memoir The Book of Jon: “None of these stories will stitch up into a seamless blanket to cover this family’s tracks. In this story, all the fissures show, they bulge scarlike, they come apart at the seams or they were never sewn up in the first place.” Toward the end of the next expansive sentence, she describes “the snaking lines of those beautifully colored cartographer’s maps coming unhinged from their borders and uncoiling away off the page, disappearing into the aethers.” Even her (mixed) metaphors appear pasted together from various texts, incorporating verbs of stitching, bulging, coming apart, snaking, unhinging, uncoiling and disappearing, while the nouns they move include a blanket, fissures, scars, seams, maps and pages. But what is oddest about this passage is Sikelianos’s definition of her family story as a narrative that might “cover this family’s tracks”—a history that conceals rather than reveals. This odd and troubling idea is the engine that drives her poetic memoir from ignorance to an untotalizing knowledge of kin and kind.[6]

Earliest Worlds contains not one, but two ambitious volumes of poems: Blue Guide, and Of Sun, Of History, Of Seeing. Although the books share the balance of concentration and abandon necessary for their slightly increased speed of travel, the boundary between them is clearly defined, and either can be appreciated on its own. Together, they cover more ground than some careers.[7]

Personal life[edit]

She currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Laird Hunt, and daughter Eva Grace.


  • 2002 National Poetry Series (for The Monster Lives)
  • Seeger Fellow Princeton University
  • Yaddo residency
  • Maison des écrivains étrangers residency in Brittany,
  • Fulbright Writer's Fellowship in Greece
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Award in Nonfiction Literature
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship
  • two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing
  • New York Council for the Arts Translation Award
  • James D. Phelan Award for Blue Guide


  • Make Yourself Happy, (Coffee House Press, 2017)
  • The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead (Coffee House Press, 2013)
  • Body Clock (Coffee House Press, 2008)
  • The California poem. Coffee House Press. 2004. ISBN 978-1-56689-162-2.
  • The Monster Lives of Boys & Girls. Green Integer. December 1, 2003. ISBN 978-1-931243-67-4.
  • Earliest Worlds (Coffee House Press, 2001)
  • The Book of Tendons 1997
  • The Lover's Numbers
  • To Speak While Dreaming 1993


  • "from The Book of Jon". Ploughshares. Winter 2002–2003. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  • "from Body Clock". Tarpaulin Sky. Fall 2006.
  • The Book of Jon (Nonfiction; City Lights, 2004).
  • You Animal Machine (The Golden Greek) (Coffee House Press, 2014).


  • From Blue Guide (1999)
  • The Lover's Numbers
  • Poetics of the X (1995)




External links[edit]