The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead

Poems by Eleni Sikelianos

“Sikleanos’ gift has always been for place and the particular. In her extraordinary new collection she conjures a sympathetic magic for the quick and the dead. This mid-territory where language and disappearance are forever turning and returning is explored and surveyed in loving detail. These poems offer consolation for our American predicament here and now where ‘the body picks up its shadow like a baby and carries it home.’”—Susan Howe

April 2013
124 pages
Paperback Original

ISBN: 978-1-56689-324-4.

$15.95

Description

The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead inhabits the collisions, sometimes at the atomic level, sometimes at the level of the preposition, between past, present, and future.  Doppelgangers, family, friends, and a semi-oracular figure named Charlene move between worlds, shifting forms in an overlapping arrangement of time and memory, as each organ, atom, and word casts its traveling shadow across the screen.

Click here to read Sikelianos’s interview with Andy Fitch of The Conversant.

Reviews

Library Journal Best Books 2013: Poetry

Volta Best Books of 2013

“Electric as a lightning storm, wild as a first-growth forest, protean as fantasy’s shape-shifters—that’s Sikelianos’s poetry, a real pleasure to read.” Library Journal

“Sikelianos’s poems collect the world and then disassemble it. They prove her to be one of our most free-thinking and innovative poets, whose evolving work continually challenges the boundaries of her art while retaining an essential lyricism.” Boston Review

“These poems are invitations are from the eternal beyond calling forth our response.” Galatea Resurrects

“Eleni’s language—body-language, breath, and babies’ many minds behind—a poem that won’t let you go til it’s done with you, its sinuous whipping lines.” —Gary Snyder

“Sikelianos, the great-granddaughter of a renowned Greek poet, continues her own explorations of the epic with this dazzling new macro-collage. The resulting lucid cacophony is close to what she described in her earlier work , ‘enough pipe-dreams to fill up several countries, countries full of pipe-dreamers.’ Hers is a voice, or voices, unlike anything in contemporary poetry.”  —John Ashbery

“Sikleanos’ gift has always been for place and the particular. In her extraordinary new collection she conjures a sympathetic magic for the quick and the dead. This mid-territory where language and disappearance are forever turning and returning is explored and surveyed in loving detail. These poems offer consolation for our American predicament here and now where ‘the body picks up its shadow like a baby and carries it home.’” —Susan Howe

“I turn to Eleni Sikelianos’ poems when the drastic gracelessness of capital has me in gridlock. And I do find grace here, along with a tender ear for the lush equivocation of all the naming we do. The feeling is sanguine and open. All of language’s fragility is permitted. Why grace? It’s the ethics of the recognition of an other. Why equivocation? It’s the lived rhetoric of compassion. Around these charged and vital foci, each poem swings in elliptic wilderness. For Sikelianos, the poem’s time is motion, vibrating and trans-corporeal.” —Lisa Robertson

“[Sikelianos's poems] seem nearly athletic, tumbling and cutting off lines briskly, disappearing into openness. There’s a lightness, a directness, and an electric urgency. A vividness is in them. Departures, too. Unravelings. Incompleteness. But never the feeling that anything needs to be complete.” —Mobile Reviews

“The poems present messages that need to be shared–and that the reader is drawn to try to understand–yet the narratives are not spoonfed . . . I highly recommend Eleni Sikelianos’ The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead.” Sit With Moi!

“These poems capture the urgency of our decline even as they bear witness to the eternal truths that allow us to bounce back and regenerate, to write and to sing.”—The Journal

“Come, let us speak of shadows. The Loving Detail is full of them. . . indeed, much of The Loving Detail is about observing the things that shadows get up to when they take it in mind to walk abroad in the ordinary evenings.” Oona Verse

The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead reads a collection of poems that are exactly what the title tells us: poems exploring the way that we live in the world, as well as touching upon large abstract concepts of death, the heart and the soul, and how we remember those and what has long passed by. This book has a very large heart, and one that contains multitudes.” —Rob Mclennan

The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead is a stunning sketch on what it means to be human and carry our humanity around inside ourselves through the ages.”Drunken Boat

 

Excerpt

“Charlene”

Everyone is the weather of our home star
Enclose the future in your liver
With the audacity of a jewel trap
The future where there’s nothing left
Charlene
your hair was
a tall girl, big girl blonde as cigarette smoke
You had a boat by the river, little boat tied to the banks
a wooden ship of luxury because freedom
is You could float away, come home
float away, come
home
without the weight of your own actions
ripping the organs out of your body
Charlene
the body holds the vowels like a baby arming the “O”
sideways U the future shape of the liver
blue U liver
why U
Charlene
Kidney’s emerald
Light blue Charlene
Eat your bowl of money

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Someone photographs the hands trembling in black air

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“Mary Wore a Red Dress”

Where did Mary wear
her red dress, where did Mary
go? To the corner, for
milk, in the milk-grey
morning light, Mary. Mary will not go
forever, she will not wear
the red dress
forever, she is in motion : moving
just between these light frames, she jumps
like old oil on a hot griddle, Mary in
a velvet past
that tatters as it moves
toward me, that’s how time goes : how will Mary
Mary get to the future
What is the future, it’s a past
place, tattered
red
red flag in scattered light
where hawk has been, to put a child
to sleep, where hawk has gone
to see a child sleep, what hawk has heard, Mary over the Aquiville River
Mary of the blue air around
Mary of the milky past, child of my own
hawk-light, child of grass

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when it says “fragile” above a body sleeping in the doorway

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