Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

January 21, 2011

Stone Telling, Issue 2

Filed under: review — Tags: , — Sam @ 1:33 am

Stone Telling is a relatively new online magazine of speculative poetry, free to read. Issue 2 is here. I’ve linked to some of the highlights for me, pieces that particularly resonated; yours will probably be different, so do take a look at the whole thing.

Start with Rose Lemberg’s introduction to the issue, which gives us a new eye to see each poem.

“It’s about loss,” I would say. “It’s about continuity, and becoming. The heartbreak issue. The aftermath of loss. It is about memory. It is about women.”

And yes, Stone Telling 2 is all of those things; but most of all, this issue is about generations – the chain of linked selves, forged together, sometimes at odds with each other; nurtured and nurturing. When the chain breaks, we are broken.

Mid-Journey, by Athena Andreadis
Text, English & Greek

This poem calls up strong echoes of classical Greek hero tales, with its bitter, proud, bronze-voiced evocations of flame, ruin, and exile, but the issue’s focus on women and the ties between women makes it a particularly interesting read. It’s an away poem, looking back but resolutely orienting itself forward; remembering, but never regretting a choice.

Athena Andreadis also writes about Sapfó of Lésvos:

When Hellenes said The Poet and used a masculine suffix, they meant Homer; when they used a feminine suffix, they meant Sapfó. Sapfó is quicksilver, saffron and wild silk; seabreeze and crackling flame. To hear her, even in pieces, is to drink starlight, glimpse the elusive blackbird that ushers the dawn.

The Winter Tree, by Amal El-Mohtar
This poem speaks—in fierce, sharp-edged, lyrical verses—of what is and what might have been, of the tree within her and of the moon that draws its tides.

Sometimes, the tree sings,
keens broken lines and lullabies,
murder-ballads, loneliness,
paper-bark and thorns.

Art Lessons, by Yoon Ha Lee
This is a dark, ominous poem, written in a disconcerting mixture of incantatory witches’ chant and dactylic speech rhythms. The final two lines, very deliberately breaking out of the spell, come as a jarring shock, but that’s the idea after all.

Archaeology, by Eliza Victoria
This is a prose poem, giving us some of the highlights from the history of a mass grave—one of the shamefacedly unmarked atrocities from modern wars—and from one of the people buried there.

Eight Legs of Grandmother Spider, by Catherynne Valente
This poem has two parallel narratives; one is our old friend, the person (in this case, a spider) who goes to retrieve the Sun when it leaves. The other is a four-year-old mixed-race child, fallen asleep on her grandmother’s lap. What I like most about this poem, I think, is that it describes people through activities; singing, holding, scattering seeds. Stealing the sun.


  1. Thank you very much for the review!

    Comment by Rose Lemberg — January 21, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  2. You’re welcome, and thank you for the issue!

    Comment by Sam — January 21, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  3. Thank you for the whole review and for “bronze-voiced” in particular, Eithin Cymreig. If you want to know a bit more about both the pride and the bitterness:

    Being Part of Everyone’s Furniture; Or: Appropriate Away!

    Comment by Athena Andreadis — January 21, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

  4. You’re entirely welcome, and thank you for validating my first poetry review on this blog! The essay you link to is really interesting, too; it’s always good to hear one of the original owners of a cultural soup-bone talk about the ox it came from.

    Comment by Sam — January 21, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  5. Excellent review!

    Comment by Mike Allen — January 22, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  6. [...] SF/F critic Sam “Eithin” in his review of Stone Telling 2: “This poem calls up strong echoes of classical Greek hero tales, with its [...]

    Pingback by Astrogator’s Logs » Blog Archive » Though the Moon Be Still as Bright — January 31, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

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