[by Ben Ficklin]
Eleni Sikelianos’ grandmother dressed as a leopard, married five times, and collected rocks. This eccentric grandma is the subject of Sikelianos’ newest book from Coffee House Press, You Animal Machine . Sikelianos read from this part-memoir,part-poetry, part-essay on September 27th at Literary Arts. The other featured poets were Endi Bogue Hartigan and Joshua Marie Wilkinson. Before and after the event, they discussed literary habits, future projects, and expressed mutual-admiration.
Styled off Melena’s journals, the book utilizes pictures and a variety of writing styles. Original poetry, feminist commentary, and biography were all performed. Photographs of Melena were projected behind Sikelianos as she read. In these pictures, Melena wore a leopard costume, a straw hat and no shoes, and draped herself in a boa constrictor. While reading, Sikelianos acquired her grandmother’s personas. She was sultry. She was empowered. She was confined. She was married to a jazz singer and a midget. The reading just began exploring this boundless woman.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson, fresh off a reading tour, started the evening. Wilkinson runs the press The Volta. His books include Selenography (Sidebrow Books), Swamp Isthmus (Black Ocean), The Courier’s Archive & Hymnal (Sidebrow Books), and the Meadow Slasher (Black Ocean).
Endi Mogue Hartigan is a Portland poet and a 2010 Oregon Book Award finalist for her first book, One Sun Storm (Center for Literary publishing) She read from her most recent book Pool [5 choruses] (Omnidawn). These poems utilized a chorus-like commentary, which Hartigan enacted by stepping aside to speak different parts. She also read new and unpublished work in which clockwork was prevalent.
Literary Arts partnered with Coffee House Press to bring Eleni Sikelianos to Portland. Thanks to Coffee House and all the readers and audience for an exceptional evening of poetry and prose!
This post was written by Ben Ficklin, Literary Arts intern
WITS Writers-in-Residence Reading
November 29, 2018
Literary Arts is honored to have accomplished poets, journalists, novelists, essayists, and…
2018/2019 Portland Arts & Lectures
December 4, 2018
The 2018/2019 series is sold out! Sign up for our newsletter at…
One Page Wednesday December
December 5, 2018
Writers, escape the solitude of your desk. Readers, come hear great fresh…
The Moth Mainstage in Portland
December 10, 2018
The Moth returns to Portland on Monday, December 10. This extraordinary performance…
Everybody Reads 2019: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (SOLD OUT)
March 14, 2019
In partnership with the Multnomah County Library and The Library Foundation, Literary…
2019 Oregon Book Awards Ceremony
April 22, 2019
Join Literary Arts’ annual celebration of the state’s most accomplished writers in…