The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 15, 2005

Homesick California Poet Reads On 'Live From Prairie Lights' March 2

The "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa Radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature Eleni Sikelianos, 2002 winner in the National Poetry Series, reading from "The California Poem," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 2. The program will simulcast on the Internet at

The reading will also be open to the public free of charge at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Sikelianos grew up in California and now lives in New York City. Poet Fanny Howe observed, "To be homesick for the whole of California requires a vast imagination." And a review in her home state's Los Angeles Times called the book "A remarkable poem of near-Homeric proportion and ambition."

Doris Lynch wrote for the Library Journal, "Excessive, Whitmanesque, full of sense and nonsense, this epic poem attempts to capture the qualities of Sikelianos's home state, both actual and dreamlike."

A preview in Publishers Weekly described the book as "Sprawling and exuberant, distractingly hip and yet easy to follow, happily whimsical yet sternly attentive to ethics and to ecology. . . . This ambitious long poem explains at once what she has missed about the West Coast, how she understands the Golden State's eventful history (from pre-Columbian tribal to Hollywood, surf culture and freeways) and how she reimagines California's animals, plants, beaches and landscapes. . . .

"Sikelianos's California starts somewhere south of San Jose, and its organization is chaotic, but it has been put together with ingenuity and enthusiasm, making for a rapid and expansive work. "

Sikelianos received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Naropa Institute. She is the author of "Earliest Worlds," "The Book of Tendons" and "To Speak While Dreaming." She is also the author of a several chapbooks, including "From Blue Guide," "The Lover's Numbers" and "Poetics of the X."

Among her honors and awards are a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship and two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing. She co-runs the Wednesday Night Readings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project in St. Mark's Church in New York City.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,