What I Knew engages activities and knowledge that can’t be mined or verified by search engines or easily surveilled. Sourced from poetry’s ancient materials of dream, memory, story, and experience, What I Knew aims to create a site of resistance to, and refuge from, our current overflow of information and fact-checking, where private desires and whims cannot be commodified. It seeks alternative, personal forms of globalization rather than the public forms we know.
"Eleni Sikelianos is the vagabond traveler dreaming Sappho’s words in the desolate lands of 'truthwar,' where only a 'house of consciousness' can gather 'language-states from scraps,' to reveal Poetry as 'a secret way of knowing,' to counter the fields of hatred now enveloping us."—Cecilia Vicuña
"Eleni Sikelianos cares for her work in such a way entire generations are illuminated. Her poems aim at the mystery and hold it up with awe. 'They are fireflies. / What I am I cannot say.' Like only the best poets, Sikelianos leaves us changed from how we thought we knew our world."—CAConrad
"As our knowledges are increasingly mediated by algorithm, Eleni Sikelianos’s What I Knew defends the private knowledge of poetry, a house that does not relinquish itself to isolationism, but is instead incessantly capacious, absolutely in its time and sick of it. There is a huge web of ‘in’s here—the house and the poem, the body and the daughter, Colorado and Casablanca, Cleveland and Guantanamo—responding to the tradition of the American epic and enlarging its ‘we’ transnationally. 'In this house,' Sikelianos writes, 'we try to speak the words of it / The disasters touching each of us.' Sikelianos beautifully reminds us what of us we must guard against taming, against surveillance. Political, felicitous, to read What I Knew is to read a subversive message delivered, in Sikelianos’s solicitous hands, in one of our last 'uncorruptable' forms of speech. Just gorgeous."—Solmaz Sharif
"All things speak in Eleni’s project – all things know and all things dissolve into each other through the undulations of unknowable being that just happens to know you and your interconnections with the 'capito-human-desire landscape.' Somehow Eleni’s 'yogini' script is able to see and make an incision into the stuff of our body-planet-cosmos, the 'big-loco-shining-night,' and 'accordion out the world.' These multi-form and multi-vocal texts of quarked holes, of reversed see-thru lives, of 'serpent communications,' call us out, to unlock ourselves from our 'religio-military-citadel.' Will we? This text is one-of-a-kind, a 'wet psyche' writing itself in vision-meters, jagged, fearless new languages, and thought-arrangements for us to enter and un-peel the incredible life-life-is."—Juan Felipe Herrera
“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
“Sikelianos asks; a big question for herself, for her poetry (so indebted to nature), and for all creatures still seeking happiness.”—Publishers Weekly
“Through artifacts—lists of songs, newspaper clippings, photographs, film posters, staged interviews, poems—the poet Sikelianos assembles a textual chimera that keeps sliding through her fingers.”—Jenny Hendrix, The Believer