A Sampler of Poems
Courses & Materials
Letters to Friends
Art Gallery

The Flagrant Dead
The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity


Stephen BluestoneStephen Bluestone’s poems do miraculous things, by force of language directed through his fierce peculiar rhythm; best, they preserve what they value. Because our civilization loves speed, change, loss, and forgetfulness, a poet’s obligation is also a poet’s opportunity–to hold and keep, to make a stillness despite noise–to praise, to celebrate, and to enact endurance. In Stephen Bluestone’s old opera singers, in his afternoon/on its way into history, and in his recovered Circumstance of the Porch, he provides what the age never demands but deeply requires.
                                                                                                 Donald Hall

So forgive me–you will–but make it new, original, your own,/ no matter how strange or beautiful, or far from home, advised Robert Hayden in a poem of Stephen Bluestones.  And he did. Poem after poem [in The Flagrant Dead] is strange–and original and beautiful–whether translations or dramatic speeches, whether of love or machinery, or old technologies, or outrageous lists, whether influenced by Robert Browning or Hart Crane. We have, in our language, poems of passion and poems of the mind, but they are not too often combined. Bluestone has found a way to combine them. He is a steady student of our culture, as he is of our history. He misses nothing.
–Gerald Stern

“Stephen Bluestone’s new book,
The Flagrant Dead, has a startling and I think incontrovertible idea: the dead are with us, whether it be the pattern of the carpet in a mosque or the look in the eye of a young girl listening. Whatever has happened must still be happening–the making of a great automobile, the Maserati, and the ingenuity of the owner-manager of the Rose Theater in March 1598, who brought dead scenes to life. In Bluestone’s poetry the plays of Ben Jonson and the escapades of Harpo Marx go on forever. The Flagrant Dead is a delightful and astonishing book.
                                                                      –Louis Simpson


On August 8, 2013, I’ll be doing a feature reading with fabulous poet and good friend Anya Silver at the Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street/NY NY 10014). Time: 6-8 pm. The NYC premiere of the Curtis Bryant setting of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" will be part of the program. Atlanta soprano Arietha Lockhart will perform, along with Sunny Knable, distinguished composer and pianist. $8 cover, menu available.

Hope to see you there! Doors open at 5:45 pm. Note: the room is small and seating is limited, so I suggest that you arrive early. There’s a bar upstairs for early arrivals.

Also see:


In addition, on the Poetry Sampler page of this Web site you can find links to the first Arietha Lockhart performance of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" suite, written by composer Curtis Bryant. The texts of the poems are incorporated into the page. Arietha's performance is wonderful.

In May 2010 my new version of Psalm 104 ("I Sing of Light"), set by Curtis Bryant, was given its world premiere at the Cathedral of Christ the King, in Atlanta.  This  four-minute work was performed by the Schola Nova (Women's Choir) and culminated an array of liturgical compositions for the Atlanta Faith Partners Residency, sponsored by the American Composers Forum.

On January 30, 2010, at the Woodruff House, on the Mercer University campus, friends, family, colleagues, and students (past and present) celebrated my retirement after many years at Mercer. Stanley Roberts led a chamber group of the Mercer Singers in "Holiness Everywhere," and Arietha Lockhart, accompanied by Carol Goff, sang Curtis Bryant's "Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" suite.  After the music there were roasts and toasts. Here's a link to a slide show of the evening (thanks to Jerome Gratigny for the photos):

See link to an album of the Louis Simpson 2008 AWP Tribute. Fellow panelists included Peter Stitt, Peter Makuck, Mark Jarman, and Michael Waters. Louis Simpson was present and read his poetry. The "Tribute to Louis Simpson" session was selected by AWP for its digital archives.

                                    OTHER NOTES

At the Georgia Writers Association 2008 annual meeting The Flagrant Dead received the Taran Memorial Poetry Prize.

See Menu on this page for an addition to this site entitled "Art Gallery." The art work shown is a selection from an exhibition entitled "Ut Pictura Poesis" (as in painting so in poetry) that took place at the Hardman Hall Art Gallery on the Mercer University main campus in January and February 2009. The show featured the work of thirty Mercer students in painting, print making, and digital imaging in response to my poetry. On the "Art Gallery" page texts of the interpreted poems are linked with the art work.

Happy to report that The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity (1995) has been reprinted by Mercer University Press. To order this book, as well as The Flagrant Dead, please click on the links on this page. 

Many thanks to Keith Bluestone, Jerome Gratigny, and Robert Allen  for their work in
designing and maintaining this Web site.