|quotes and extracts from reviews.|
The writing may be stark and sparse, or it may be a tight narrative.
There are poems full of American idiom while others cast learned allusions
to facets of Egyptian and Greek mythology. For example, Morpheus, Ovid's son
of sleep and. the god of dreams, figures prominently herein. And Stone is
quite conscious of pace and sound in the ways he breaks his lines and uses
The book opens with the title poem and ends with a poem called "Innocence 2000".
These are two very different poems but each comes across as a plea that
we become more aware of what is going on around us.
Poems like "Blackbird's Lesson In New York and "Longshoreman Blue"
offer very subtle social commentary.
The long poem, "The Scarecrow", requires much effort
from the reader whereas the other long poem in the
book, "Kaddish (a poem of remembrance for Edwin Stone, 1925 - 1998)",
is perhaps the most readily accessible and - most emotional poem in
this collection. Throughout, there are magnificent stretches
like: scoffing the ruts of history/needing more leeway/ to steer through/ the alchemy of seasons"
from "Smoke Signals", and from
"The Unretrieve": slumbering warthogs/ raced crippled elephants/ collapsing in heaps/ of
unlorded letters/ and moist, powdered bones.
... this collection is a worthwhile challenge, and one that
will reward the effort again and again.
There are so many plays on the word "field", and there is so much symbolism in the blackbird.
Breathe (Giovanni Malito).
Highlight of this excellent collection is the stunning long poem, The Scarecrow:
"The entire regiment of unstocked heroes/ Fell out of orbit, blinking politely,/ Into
the muffled pageant/ Of my chlorinated beaker"
Handshake (John Francis Haines).
Mostly.. a first reading of this collection conveys Stone's exultation and delight
in the possibilities of language... A few of the poems are spread all over the page,
creating visual wordscapes... this technique forces the reader out of the standard
left-to-right, left-to-right linear progression. ..I would venture to say
that David Stone accepts the surrealist premise and takes it much further than
many of the historical Surrealists were artistically capable of doing themselves.
..With a second reading of this collection, more specific themes and symbols begin
to emerge, slowly but surely. ..A further reading ..yields still further insights.
"The Scarecrow", a long and central poem, conjures an apocalyptic landscape of death
wrought by war. ..this is an anti-war poem in its tenor, and its ending
is a tragic affirmation if life (tragic in the Nietzschean sense). Yet after
the poem is done these earlier lines still resonate: "And deeper still/ Is his silent
consent/ To the darkest drama." In the final reckoning, Stone is a realist.
The Burning Bush (Michael S. Begnal).
David Stone writes in an absurdist or surrealist style - cried Nate/
our crystal/ our shiny shoes/ our axles/ our noiseless nights - OUR PLAGUES,
which needs intelligence and flair to sustain, which he largely has and does.
Read these a few at a time, and take them on their own terms, and you will
have some fun with The nearly severed several nethered/ Rights of man
- THE SCARECROW
The Journal (Paul Lee).
Out of a
Jewish-American urban setting, Stone makes his connections, world-wide, in
geographic and cultural and mythic terms. He is personally peopled with
characters (Longshoreman Blue, The Elevator Inspector, Faust, Odysseus); he
assumes mantles, personae, (Morpheus, The Black Bird) and moves about the
contemporary world with seeing eye and prophetic voice, calling down Alcuin,
Euripides, Anubis, Baudelaire, and, of course, the master-symbolist himself,
The style is telegraphic, direct, unfussy, loaded with portent, bearing
intimations of the love, the travails and dreams of relatives, friends,
fellow citizens, ancestors. The diction, sometimes baffling, becomes
startling. It has a music of its own, which plays to the inner ear in a
quite distinctive way.
The most powerful pieces, are the internal psychic songs of a poet,
working through desperately troubled and troubling times. I particularly
savoured the contrast between The Scarecrow and Kaddish, two poems in very
different registers, and which together, somehow reach to the very
boundaries of our Human Comedy. We shall, I feel, hear more from this fine
Links (Mike Bannister).