Someone Else’s Wedding Vows

Bianca Stone. Tin House/Octopus Books (PGW, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (78p) ISBN 978-1-935639-74-9
Stone’s debut offers a captivating mix of lyric and grit, juxtaposing Latinate and colloquial diction in unexpected combinations. Stone is an accomplished visual artist (having illustrated, among other books, Anne Carson’s Antigonick), and the penetrating playfulness in her visual work is also present in her poetry, establishing the breadth of the speaker’s intellect and imagination while undermining poetic tropes, as in the closing lines of “What It’s Like” (“There isn’t even/ a sky. And there isn’t even a sky behind that”) or in “Driving Our New Car” (“I looked in the mirror this morning and I felt my age/ like a tremor from a distant fundraiser”). Each of her introspective speakers is witty and worldly, with a descriptive eye; each celebrates the machinations and mechanics of contemporary America: “Under the simulated/ middleclass environment/ of the fuselage/ the snow was falling.” Familial and romantic attachment are central to the collection’s thematic concerns, which Stone explores without sacrificing her interest in the universal, evolutionary, and metaphysical. In “Elegy with Judy Garland & Refrigerator,” the speaker reflects, “I stand looking at the milk, the rack, the maple,/ and I realize grief wants me to stay/ a child, negotiating a stream of atoms,/ picking flowers. Grief wants me in good condition.” Stone’s poems astutely and honestly address the longing and cost of human connections. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
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