The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead

Poetry by Eleni Sikelianos

April 30, 2013 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 124 pages • 978-1-56689-324-4

Beautifully crafted poems that investigate the intersections of the living and the dead in stunningly simple language.

The Loving Detail of the Living & 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.

About the Author

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Loving Detail of the Living & 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.


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