“Stephen 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
‘afternoon/on its way into history,’
and in his recovered
‘Circumstance of the Porch,’
he provides what the age never
demands but deeply requires.”
“‘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 Bluestone’s. 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
“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.”
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
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.
In addition, on the
Poetry Sampler page of this Web site you can find
links to the
performance of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" suite, written by composer
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
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."
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.
thanks to Keith Bluestone, Jerome Gratigny, and Robert Allen for their work in
designing and maintaining this Web site.