THE CALIFORNIA POEM
Sprawling and exuberant, distractingly hip and yet easy to follow, happily whimsical yet sternly attentive to ethics and to ecology, Sikelianos's fifth book looks like her major achievement so far. Despite an upbringing in Southern California, Sikelianos (The Monster Lives of Boys and Girls ) spent much of the past decade in New York. 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. "These/ are the researches of Eleni," she exclaims, and they include lists of butterflies, interpolated photographs, charts, diagrammatic passages of American Sign Language and "my friends// ...being punished by off-duty fathers in tract houses they are not allowed to leave after dark." 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. (Oct.)
Forecast: Sikelianos's great-grandfather Angelos Sikelianos was one of the best-known poets of modern Greece, and her prose memoir of her father, The Book of Jon, appears from City Lights this month. This book should mark her breakthrough to further name recognition and corresponding sales.
Release date: 01/01/2004