Synopses & Reviews
A. E. Stallings has established herself as one of the best American poets of her generation. In addition to a lively dialogue with both the contemporary and ancient culture of her adopted homeland, Greece, this new collection features poems that, in her inimitable voice, address the joys and anxieties of marriage and motherhood. This collection builds on previous accomplishments with some longer poems and sequences of greater philosophical scope, such as “On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia.” Stallings possesses the rare ability to craft precise poems that pulsate with deeply felt emotion. Like the olives of the title, the book embraces the bitter but savory fruits of the ancient tree, and the tears and sweetness we harvest in our temporary lives. These poems show Stallings in complete command of her talent, able to suggest the world in a word.
"Stallings's sweet tooth for meter, rhyme, and traditional form has earned her something of an outlier reputation in contemporary poetry. She skimps on none of these inclinations in her latest, a roving exploration of domestic and classical lives in which anagrammatic poems, sonnets, and sharp villanelles appear alongside forms as varied as fibs, etudes, and bedtime stories. Though one can hardly argue with the precision of her ear when she is nestled at home in antiquity with a ghost ship that 'plies an inland sea. Dull/ With rust, scarred by a jagged reef. In Cyrillic, on her hull/ Is lettered Grief' Stallings fumbles with certain of the mythologies, namely the fall of man, onto which she opens her rhyming dictionary. 'Did/ Eve,' she writes, 'believe/ or grapple/ over the apple? Eavesdropping Adam heard her say/ to the snake-oil salesman she was not born yesterday.' When she unleashes her technical gifts upon poems in which she builds a new narrative instead of building upon an old one, Stallings achieves a restrained, stark poise that is threatening even by New Formalism standards: 'After the argument, all things were strange./ They stood divided by their eloquence.../ Now there were real things to rearrange.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"One of the strongest talents to emerge in recent years." Poetry
A. E. Stallings has established herself as one of the best American poets of her generation. In addition to a lively dialogue with both the contemporary and ancient culture of her adopted homeland, Greece, this new collection features poems that, in her inimitable voice, address the joys and anxieties of marriage and motherhood.
About the Author
A. E. Stallings has published two books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award, and Hapax (Northwestern University Press, 2006), which won the Poets Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Benjamin H. Danks Award. She has also published a verse translation of Lucretius, The Nature of Things (2007). Stallings is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Athens, Greece.
Table of Contents
I. The Argument
The Compost Heap
The Dress of One Occasion
Deus Ex Machina
Fear of Happiness
On Visiting a Borrowed Country House in Arcadia
II. Extinction of Silence
Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Ascribed to Martin Luther
The Ghost Ship
Handbook of the Foley Artist
Extinction of Silence
Lines for Turner Cassity
Funereal Stelae: Kerameikos, Athens
III. Three Poems for Psyche
The Eldest Sister to Psyche
The Boatman to Psyche on the River Styx
Persephone to Psyche
IV. Fairy-tale Logic
Two Nursery Rhymes
Accident Waiting to Happen
Alice in the Looking Glass
Hide and Seek
Listening to "Peter and the Wolf" with Jason, Aged Three
The Mother's Loathing of Balloons
Another Bedtime Story