Poetry. "'Philosophy never confesses / its delicate condition' writes Eleni Stecopoulos, as she takes on the inherently vulnerable role of investigative poet, asking whether the body, personal and politic, is irrevocably split off in its systemic afflictions. In this book Stecopoulos deploys the paradoxical force/fragility of poetry at all too familiar sites of our abjection. She does this with historically aware wisdom and humor. Can words help, not as palliative or consolation, but as source of transfiguring energy? 'Levitating girls' hover over 'lines gathering / all the intelligence' of an intellectually astute imagination steeped in, among many aesthetic legacies, that of ancient Greece, where the fact 'that the god descends on creaking pulleys in no way undermines the apparition.' This poet has the guts and strategy (persistent courage) of what she calls 'choric goals...waiting in the echo / for a tone,' subtending towards love"--Joan Retallack.
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Eleni Stecopoulos was born in New York, NY, and now lives in Berkeley, CA. She is the author of Autoimmunity (Taxt, 2006), and her poems and essays have appeared in journals including CHAIN, ECOPOETICS, Harvard Review, XCP:CROSS CULTURAL POETICS, The Capilano Review, and THE ENCYCLOPEDIA PROJECT. She received a Creative Work Fund grant to curate a program series around art and medicine for the SFSU Poetry Center and write a related book. Stecopoulos is a graduate of the University of Virginia MFA program and the Poetics Program at Buffalo. She teaches in the Language and Thinking program at Bard College and sometimes co-directs the Paros Translation Symposium in Greece.Review:
This startling work brings something necessary to American poetry: a visceral poetics that transforms diagnosis into a performative linguistic probe in the service of the disturbed body. The body politic's symptoms and signs are the foundation for Eleni Stecopoulos's aversive lyrics, whose beauty lies not in the unbearing of a device but in the bearing of our discomfiture in the world and the potency of our imaginary realignments. Armies of Compassion is a talisman, antidote to what ails, spells woven against an engulfing night. --Charles Bernstein
The poems of Armies of Compassion are riveting, threnodic, deeply investigative of our "heiroglyphics of breath" and body. They cut to the marrow of kinetics and philology, our psyche's doubt, our cellular breakdowns and theatricalities, our ironies and euphemisms, our endless war, pinning evocative Latin and Greek terms to greater mythic dimension and healing ritual. Eleni Stecopoulos is one of our deepest and most rigorous poets whose ethos and intelligence challenge and light up the mind. I am thrilled by out of what ruins and darkness inspired lexical examination come these rare beauties. --Anne Waldman
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