The Möbius Strip Club of Grief

Bianca Stone. Tin House, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-941040-85-0
Balancing a confessional voice with humor and portentous imagery, Stone (Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours) explores grief, familial connection, and the small things that sustain life in her startling third collection. Readers encounter feuds with Anne Sexton’s nieces and a hereafter where the dead perform for the living. But Stone’s great achievements are two sequences that share an awed admiration for the female mind. The first, “I am Unfaithful to You with My Genius,” is an ode to women writers and their “demon of genius—mad genius,” inspiring the poet to devotion: “like Antigone I would ruin myself for you.” The second, “Blue Jays,” pays homage to the poet’s mother, and by extension all women (“Mothers are all I have ever known”). Stone captures her mother’s eccentricities and burdens with heartbreaking clarity: “your genius trapped like a moth on the screened-in porch of your pain.” The book ends in a somber elegy for America—“I feel the phantom limbs of my predecessors/ waving in the air,” Stone writes—putting an exclamation point on a collection that features a bravely vulnerable beating heart hidden beneath layers of irony and clever misdirection. Stone is the child of her muses, Sexton and Emily Dickinson, and it is an odd but delightful union. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 02/27/2018
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