Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

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On the Altar of Greece


Molly Peacock*

"The poetry of Donna J. Gelagotis Lee combines the sharp resourcefulness of the observer with the powers of the visionary. Her poems travel both in time and in memory to Greek villages and to Athens, bringing with them the spiky sensibility of a contemporary American woman. Never surrendering her complicated view of this complex world, she writes with vigor and a rapt, focused insight into the culture that spreads itself before her. Memory is a full-blooded character in her poetry, conjuring up each situation with a body-quickening pulse. With percussive rhythms and sensuous explanations, she draws us into her world, reminding us that she is at least two daughters of the titan Mnemosyne at once:  Erato on the back of a motorcycle, Calliope in sunglasses languishing at the taverna."


Dean Kostos**

"The poems of Donna J. Gelagotis Lee remind us that the word poem means 'a made thing' in Greek, for the physicality of her poetry provokes the senses: 'I feel my tongue / I taste the red mullet / and the octopus. I taste the sea / and the earth. I eat / the words.' Like the hands she describes preparing food, Lee stirs up a rich linguistic concoction. And although she sometimes writes in the language of longing ('thirst / becomes the only word'), she is never solipsistic. Hers is a wisdom that acknowledges the self and its needs, seeing in them a commonality with the needs and desires of others. She knows that to empathize distinguishes the gifted poet from the merely good one, and enacts her compassion through the concreteness of her writing. With that physicality, she brings to life the numinous core of language."



*Molly Peacock is the author of Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems.

**Dean Kostos is the author of Last Supper of the Senses.




The Sweet Briar Alumnae Magazine adds On the Altar of Greece to the "bookshelf," "Alumnae  Books," spring / summer 2008 

The Star-Ledger, 6/14/07, Jersey Ink: "Poets explore Greece and inner feelings" by Patricia C. Turner

The Lawrence Ledger, 1/11/07, "Eight years in ancient land explored through poetry" by John Dunphy, Managing Editor

The Lawrence Ledger, 1/11/07, "When time and place become part of you" by John Dunphy

West Windsor & Plainsboro News, 12/1/06, "A Poet’s Plainsboro Roots" by Jean Cervi

The Hillsborough Beacon, 11/30/06, "Hillsborough poet’s collection garnering high praise" by Mary H. Kaempfen

Home News Tribune, 3/16/03, "Listen to the rhythm of the falling verse: POEMS ABOUT GREECE" by Charles H. Johnson










Winner of the Seventh Annual Gival Press Poetry Award

2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category 



On the Altar of Greece