“Stone is not only a valuable physician, but a poet who is able to get his outstanding qualities of imagination and formal technique into a relationship that produces poems of great human value.” —James Dickey
Renaming the Streets, John Stone’s third book of poems, is a work that speaks to the future but remains mindful of the endless intersection of the past and present. Stone writes about the human experience in all its seasons: if there is suffering, pain, loneliness, there is also love, mercy, humor, and, always, a sense of wonder. In “Rosemary,” Stone describes the vulnerability of a traveler who falls half in love with a coffee-shop waitress. When, in “The Bass,” a city clicker takes his son fishing and they unexpectedly catch a fish, there is not only high humor, but at the end, a sudden contemplative tone:
That fish won for us
which I keep here on my desk
to remind me of that morning and of
how unexpected the end may b
Renaming the Steets is notable for its explorations within form: prose vignettes and a sonnet sequence are side by side. In the latter, the astonishing feats of the homing pigeon take on metaphorical depth:
Its house as handsome as a Henry Moore
a prisoner in the rounded sleep of egg . . .
But then the chipping chisel of its beak—
a burglar on the perfect inside job—
and with a novice’s display of cheek
what began as instinct ends as squab.
Renaming the Streets is a book of cycles and circuits. The work is all of a piece, the voice that of a mature and meticulous craftsman, a distinguished presence in American poetry.
John Stone is the author of the poetry volumes The Smell of Matches, In All This Rain, Renaming the Streets, and Where Water Begins; and the essay collection In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine. He is a coeditor of On Doctoring, an anthology of literature and medicine that since 1991 has been presented to every student entering a U.S. medical school as a gift from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Now professor of medicine (cardiology) emeritus at Emory University School of Medicine, he was for nineteen years director of admissions and associate dean at the school.
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