The California Poem

Poetry by Eleni Sikelianos

October 1, 2004 • 7 x 9 • 186 pages • 978-1-56689-162-2

Glorious, expansive, and urgent, this is a new kind of epic poem for the new millennium.

California, hedonistically beautiful and increasingly endangered, is the star of this book-length poem that flies through time, memory, science, history, and imagination, mirroring the topography of the Golden State’s landscape and the history of its diverse cultures. Alternating between grand, Whitmanic tone and scope, Dickinsonian minute detail, Beat rhythms, New York School wit, and Objectivist sensibility, Eleni Sikelianos’s epic poem engages traditional lyricism with a breathtaking contemporary style and graceful urgency.

About the Author

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead and The California Poem, which was a Barnes & Noble Best of the Year, as well as hybrid memoirs, The Book of Jon and You Animal Machine (The Golden Greek). Sikelianos teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver. A California native, longtime New Yorker, and world traveler, she now lives in Boulder with her husband, the novelist Laird Hunt, and their daughter, Eva Grace.


“To be homesick for the whole of California requires a vast imagination. Whitman in his way was always homesick for what lay ahead and behind him. And now Eleni, female on earth, takes on the grief-engorged plateau that lies between imagination and the already-known in this truly ambitious American poem. ‘It’ is Nature. ‘It’ also is a blur of remembered facts. ‘It’ is the haunt of these pages. The Female principle and product of California dreams it, ‘as if I were the sea.’” —Fanny Howe