'The ancients taught me how to sound modern,' Alicia Elsbeth Stallings said in an interview. 'They showed me that technique was not the enemy of urgency, but the instrument.' For her, 'technique' is rooted in traditions of strict forms and meters, an interest that sets her apart as modern – and American – in challenging ways, for being on the face of it old-fashioned, yet ambitiously experimental among the forms she uses.
Born and raised in Georgia, she lives in Athens, Greece. Her poems come out of life's dailiness – as a wife, mother, teacher, an expatriate between languages, a brilliant translator of ancient and modern Greek. She also translates Latin, her most notable large work being the Penguin Lucretius, translated into fourteeners.
Being a poet in Greece entails, for her, being part of that world. She volunteered to help refugees arriving in Greece and their experience haunted her to write, 'My love, I'm grateful tonight/ Our listing bed isn't a raft/Precariously adrift/As we dodge the coast guard light...' The sharp quatrain commends the observation to memory. The poems, without self-indulgence or confession, are intimate as they address 'My love', children or friends.