Synopses & Reviews
A National Poetry Series winner, chosen by John Yau
These poems spin tales of traveling in a world both romantic and politicized, a world miniaturized by globalization and haunted by the figure of the cosmopolitan, who is aware of its saturated history, yet inspired by the knowledge that nostalgia is merely “memory decayed to sugar.” In the kingdom of Donna Stonecipher’s imagination, “a story is always forming to adorn reality,” and the fall of the Eastern bloc is reenacted the night “the girl with the DDR bag met the boy with the CCCP T-shirt.”
Donna Stonecipher is the author of The Reservoir and Souvenir de Constantinople. She grew up in Seattle and Tehran and makes her home both here and abroad.
"'These poems were written while I was thinking about my generation's relationship to quotation and collage,' writes Stonecipher (The Reservoir) in an introductory note. A child of the '70s, she came after Joseph Cornell but before DJ Danger Mouse, so the relationship is neither groundbreaking nor comfortable but instead fraught with ambiguity. Her thinking manifests itself in quotations she calls them 'inlays' from writers like Franz Kafka and Susan Sontag, placed in the midst of original sequences of brief narrative prose poems. Through these samplings readers can follow Stonecipher's interest in juxtaposition and parataxis as it resonates from one poem to the next, though this is not what makes this book Stonecipher's third engaging. In fact, many of the quotations feel superficial, more like decals than an encoding. But Stonecipher's seductive sentences succeed in drawing readers in. Not unlike John Yau, who selected this book for the National Poetry Series, or Lydia Davis, there's a dreamy clarity to Stonecipher's best writing. 'Pity we who must corset our mental splendor into the whalebone of grammar,' she writes in 'Inlay 4 (Susan Sontag),' 'which laces us up so tight we have to remove a rib to breathe.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In Donna Stonecipher’s new collection of prose poetry, one will find lockets, thimbles, French daguerreotypes, cyanometers, peacock feathers, a child’s stamp collection, architectural drawings, snow globes, spiraled seashells, ivory miniatures, stained glass pictures, and a replica pinhole camera. Indeed, so many rarefied objects abound in this series of prose poems, that it seems at first Stonecipher should have titled it The Curiosity Cabinet instead of The Cosmopolitan
. But the collection’s perceptible narrative motion evades the stasis of the former, so that the figure of the drifting cosmopolitan artfully connects these curios lining the shelves of poetry." Alyssa Pelish, Rain Taxi
(read the entire Rain Taxi review
Ornate miniature travelogues full of adventure and philosophical intrigue.
About the Author
Donna Stonecipher, the author of two previous poetry collections, The Reservoir and Souvenir de Constantinople, also translates poetry and prose from French and German. She grew up in Seattle and Tehran and has lived in New York, Paris, Prague, Iowa City, and Berlin. She is currently studying in Athens, Georgia, and lives part-time in Seattle and Berlin.