Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

Reviews & Awards 

Commentary       Home 


     ". . . Early in her volume of poems she sets up expectation that she will become an explorer of the interior world of Greek women. . . . She fulfills on the expectation and, most importantly, at the same time relates her own interior journey. . . .

     . . . Gelagotis Lee might be speaking across time to Sappho, not only thinking of ancient but of modern Greece; this summer she transported me there in her new collection of poetry. . . .    

     The world of these poems is undoubtedly Greece. . . .  Yet, this is not the Greece of James Merrill; we do not experience these poems through the lens of privilege and the world of men. While the men she encounters are equally a force of nature, it is the women who are the core of the book. . . .  

     . . . in the images of this collection there is a mysterious unity. . . .  The place is as alive as the people, and it is impossible to separate the landscape from the body. . . .

     This is a fine collection of poems . . . with the tempo growing throughout the collection. The result is a book whose language and structure are a dance in which the past and the present partner. . . .

     . . . Her poems are birthed out of a very complex inquiry into what it is to be an outsider in another culture. Sometimes she is crystal clear and at other times she grapples in the complexities of what she is recording and experiencing. . . . This range makes the journey of the whole very satisfying." 

Eloise Bruce, On the Altar of Greece, Journal of New Jersey Poets, 2008


"Rich with images and fragrances of Greece . . .  a collection of experience, of culture, of a woman's story steeped in the history of other women. . . .  Donna J. Gelagotis Lee is a masterful poet. . . ."

—Carla Atherton, "On the Altar of Greece," Cahoots, March 2008


"Lee’s visceral and often sensual language creates a series of images that builds, throughout the collection, into a kind of movie that we can’t help but feel a part of and strongly connected to, even well after reading the final poem. . . .

. . . Indeed, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee is an outstanding poet whose cross-cultural perspective lends to that truth, and On the Altar of Greece shines because of it."

—Simmons B. Buntin, "A Certain Truth," A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments, July 2007



"If you can’t make it to the Greek islands this summer, you can read this book of poetry instead. I’ve been reading On the Altar of Greece on the bus as I go to work. Each time I place the book down, I am somehow surprised to find myself not on a Greek island, but back in the city. The poems evoke the smell of the cooking, the heat of the mid-afternoon, the clutter of the discos at the platias at night. . . ."  —gette, aka Georgette Nicolaides, "Book Review:  On the Altar of Greece by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee," Blogcritics Magazine (, July 4, 2007

Read more at Blogcritics.



"Award-winning poet and longtime resident of Greece Donna J. Gelagotis Lee presents On the Altar of Greece, a free-verse poetry collection that explores the majesty, venerable history, and wonder of Greece from an American woman's perspective. Poems contemplate mundane aspects of daily life such as food preparation or the relationship between neighbors, as well as holiday celebrations and the taste of simply experiencing a different way of life. An evocative and memorable tribute. 'Remembering You': 'Gamma, epsilon...  / Slowly your name spells itself / to me, my tongue catching the letters / along the contours, bulging through / interior openings that flip the letters / onto their backs. And I have / forgotten what they said to me. / I have forgotten the taste of your alphabet.'"  —Susan Bethany, Reviewer's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review, March 2007



Seventh Annual Gival Press Poetry Award

Advance praise by Don Berger, Judge of the 2005 Gival Press Poetry Award, Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland, and author of Quality Hill and The Cream-Filled Muse


2007 Eric Hoffer Award: Notable for Art Category

"When we circulate poetry among the judges, it is understood that the feedback will be tempered by individual style and taste. Eventually we come across a collection that we deem 'unavoidable'—impossible to set aside. On the Altar of Greece is one such body of work, an honest portrayal of Donna J. Gelagotis Lee's impressions of Greece. Her understanding of place is as strong as her insight into human nature. All the senses are at work in the prose, even as her words craft mesmerizing bolts of energy. The reader must acquiesce." —Best New Writing: The Eric Hoffer Award


Awards and Nominations for Manuscripts and Individual Poems

"Docking at Limnos," finalist, 2007 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize, CALYX Journal

"The pines," nominated by Simmons B. Buntin, editor and publisher of A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments, for the Best of the Net 2007 Anthology by Sundress Publications

"On the Altar of Greece," finalist, 2005 Richard Snyder Memorial Poetry Prize

"Deciding Not to Wear Glasses," finalist, The May Swenson Poetry Award

"On the Altar of Greece," semifinalist, 2005 Crab Orchard Award Series First Book Prize in Poetry

"On the Altar of Greece," finalist, 2004 Gival Press Poetry Award

"On the Altar of Greece," finalist, 2003 Winnow Press First Book Award in Poetry 

Semifinalist, "Discovery"/The Nation 2003: The Joan Leiman Jacobson Poetry Prizes

Nominated, finalist, Ploughshares "Emerging Writers" issue, 2003









On the Altar of Greece


Winner of the Seventh Annual Gival Press Poetry Award

2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category 


Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry
2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry/Literary Criticism

2007 Independent Publisher Book Award for Poetry

2007 Writers Notes Book Award for Art: Poetry

2007 Levis Reading Prize

2006 Pushcart Prize

2006 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award for Poetry

2006 National Book Award for Poetry