“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.
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