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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  33 reviews
A. E. Stallings has established herself as one of the best American poets of her generation. In addition to a lively dialogue with both the contemporary and ancient culture of her adopted homeland, Greece, this new collection features poems that, in her inimitable voice, address the joys and anxieties of marriage and motherhood. This collection builds on previous accomplis ...more
Paperback, 70 pages
Published April 28th 2012 by Triquarterly
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Selected Poems 1976-2019 by Will DockeryThe Complete Poems of James Dickey by James DickeyHarlot by Jill Alexander EssbaumOlives by A.E. StallingsArmored Hearts by David Bottoms
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Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Alicia Elsbeth Stallings, born in 1968 in Decatur, Georgia, and educated at the University of Georgia and at Oxford University, has lived for a number of years in Athens, Greece, and is the wife of John Psaropoulos, editor of the English-language Athens News. Her work has often been associated with the New Formalists, the group of poets who, in the past two decades, have reacted against much avant-garde poetry that eschews form, meter, and rhyme. Although most of her poems are written in identif ...more
Charmaine Lim
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Gosh I hated reading this for class

Full review here:
Michael Vagnetti
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the very small cadre/cabal of poets that gets my magnetic respect."Every word tells," that damn dictum, yes. The words are pressed into the page indelibly. Extreme skill in form, and rhyme, sloppiness-banishing. If like woodwork, they are lathed and lacquered to be exquisite. If like music, they have exposition, development, and resolution, fingers fly across necks. Yet these same traits trouble me. Many times the poems are contained in a way that seems conspicuous, almost languidly comfo ...more
Linda Ledford-miller
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
a book of poetry by an American poet who lives in Athens. She is a master of rhyme. Here is the eponymous poem.

Sometimes a craving comes for salt, not sweet,
For fruits that you can eat
Only if pickled in a vat of tears —
A rich and dark and indehiscent meat
Clinging tightly to the pit — on spears

Of toothpicks, maybe, drowned beneath a tide
Of vodka and vermouth,
Rocking at the bottom of a wide,
Shallow, long-stemmed glass, and gentrified;
Or rustic, on a plate cracked like a tooth —

A m
Olives is a pleasing collection by an understated master of formalism, sprinkled with quirkily intelligent puns and tidily epigrammatic turns-of-phrase (death is described as "the rude democracy of bone"; nightfall is described as "The earth [turning] her back/on one yellow middling star/to consider lights more various and far"). The book is elegantly partitioned into four thematically cohesive sections. The first section, "The Argument," deals rather straightforwardly with the subject of marita ...more
David Alexander
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed these poems. They seem to me at times like sophisticated play and reading them it is as if coming into a home full of rich antiquity and order inhabited by a family with young children whose matron's eye dances with humor, an eye which catches subtleties that often elude me and perhaps expose me unflatteringly. Some of the poems about marital relationship and some of the poems about children especially resonate with me, though I feel lame for saying so.

Some of the poems my mind return
G.m. Palmer
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
More than a collection of great poems, Olives is a book. In Kevin Kelly’s “What Will Books Become,” a book is “a self-contained story, argument, or body of knowledge . . . it contains its own beginning, middle, and end.” Frost declared that from a collection of twenty-four poems the book should become the twenty-fifth. Few books of poetry live up to these ideals. A.E. Stallings’ third book of poetry, Olives, exceeds them, “full of the golden past and steeped in brine.”

read the full review at str
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erin by: Left Bank Books Writers Read Book Club
The poet who recommended this to our book club felt obligated to warn us that Stallings's poems rhyme; she worried that we'd be turned off by the classic style. Even if it's not a popular approach, the poems in Olives are a wonderful collection of well executed forms--that sometimes break the rules--serving their topics and themes in perfect harmony. The collection has some connecting threads but there isn't one uniting theme. It's largely composed of previously published poems, arranged based o ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I wasn't familiar with Stallings until March of this year, but this has quickly become one of my favourite collections. She uses form with such good judgement and clarity, and it makes her imagery feel both fresh and inevitable. The last section in this collection, which deals with children and childhood, is my favourite: I love how she writes about children, her mixture of tenderness, frustration and awe is beautiful.
Frank Romagosa
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This collection is such a marvel, its poems and their art are breathtaking .. they all have such incredible meter and rhyme in ways that astound, her writing makes even repetition an event to listen to and hear. This is a book of poetry that one reads from start to finish, no questions asked, it is breathtaking .. and its ending poem, so very beautiful and in some miraculous way, very dear!
Daniel Klawitter
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For my money, she's simply among the very best poets writing today. I'll buy anything she publishes because she is freaking brilliant, charming, smart, and she makes even the most challenging poetic form look easy...which is a mark of her genius. If you even remotely like poetry but haven't read her there is a gaping hole in your soul and you don't even know it.
Jun 08, 2013 added it
Over the past few years A.E. Stallings has become one of my favorite contemporary poets. While I might not love this collection quite as much as Archaic Smile, there were enough poems where the ending managed to land just so to make it still worth the reading.

Here's one lighter (yet not lighter) one that made me smile.
Christopher Rutenber
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic use of sound and rhyme, something altogether lacking in much current poetry. I also very much enjoyed her subject matter.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Big Stallings fan here. Read through it once and am set to read through it again, having re-read many of the poems already as I went along. Good sign. Good poet. Good book.
Starr Davis
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting read. It can be interpreted in so many ways, spiritually, physically, emotionally. I loved this collection of poetry it was very freeing and beautiful.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Probably my very favorite book of poetry, ever. Just perfection.
Katie Farris
Hard to choose a favorite poem from the book, though I loved parts three and four the best. Here's one of my favorites-- also check out the chiastic "The Eldest Sister to Psyche," and the wonderful antiblurb on the back of the book.

Sea Girls
for Jason

"Not gulls, girls." You frown, and you insist--
Between two languages, you work at words.
(R's and L's, it's hard to get them right.)
We watch the heaven's flotsam: garbage-white
Above the island dump (just out of sight),
Dirty, common, greedy-- only bir
Nicholas Young
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t know what makes Stallings’ poetry good, but I am sure it is. One thing is her refusal to shout. Cool, composed (working with the careful discipline of metred rhyme) even while capturing a quarrel. And there’s enough light between her lines to let them breathe, without the suffocations of high mindedness or self. When you re-read, it’s for the pleasure of it, not to decipher.
Zack Clemmons
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some truly clever lines, turns of phrase. I particularly enjoyed the first and last books. “The Compost Heap” might take first, if there were an intra-book competition. And I love the playfulness of Stallings’ formalism. I definitely need to get my hands on “Like”.
Madeleine Lesieutre
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Sometimes the rhyme felt forced, but more often, I enjoyed it. I also made a pretty significant list of poems from this book, which I intend to return to. These include “Burned” and all of the Psyche poems and “Four Fibs” and “Fairy Tale Logic” and “The Mother’s Loathing of Balloons.”
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Some gems in here, especially “The Argument.”
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Formalist poetry can tend toward preciosity to begin with; Stallings embraces that here, with mixed effects. “Burned” and “Jigsaw Puzzle” are probably my favorites.
Kyle Singleton
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A.E. Stalling’s poetry is a great treasure in this modern time. Her work in what she calls “inherited forms” is a refreshing breath from the past. She plays with things long since thought to be out of fashion and brings to them a new life. Olives is no exception to her greatness. She uses inherited forms to discuss everything from jigsaw puzzles, to the desire for deus ex machina, to violins. The thing she play with most is rhyme. She is a master rhymer. In her poem “Jigsaw Puzzle” she uses the ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Each poem is a bit of a puzzle. Something that at first seems easy enough, you know that there is a place for all of these words, you are simply trying to decipher the picture. The fact that A. E. Stallings rhymes in many of her poems can fool you into grouping her with Dr. Seuss but like our famed author of many children’s books, Stallings write very thought provoking things hidden in a simple verse. Her ideas are unique but relatable. She shares her experiences but they are not stale like the ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book better than I did. If it had included only the poem on the back cover, I would have rated it higher. Presented on their own, all these poems would come off as accomplished; printed all together, I felt an overdose of rhyme. Stallings is a master of form - I immediately wanted to go out and try to write a villanelle. The final section riffed on nursery rhymes and fairy tales and was very clever but - after a certain point - I found myself wanting a respite from Stalling ...more
Patti K
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
These new poems echo the Greek countryside and history of her home in Athens.
She uses a lot of rhyme and more traditional forms for her subjects. The opening
title poem is very good. The rest of the book is uneven. Stallings has several
poems using fairy tales and Greek myths. Her "Persephone to Psyche" is especially
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Considering how out of fashion formal poetry has become, I commend Stallings for writing an entire collection of formal poems. Some of the poems read very old-fashioned as a result, but others are so skillfully crafted and beautiful to read. This feels at once timeless and weighted without coming across as 'stuffy' overall.
Michael Odom
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Loved some of these poems. Loved the immersion into the Greek myths and Stalling's mind generally. And I am a fan of this poet/translator. But there's a lot of excess here. Anyone who loves Poetry should read this, but don't expect the book to be your favorite.
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2014
I think this book is fully of hidden gems. Her use of rhyme and form is incredible.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Seattle Public Library adult summer reading program prompted me to pick up a book of poetry, and I really enjoyed this one. Light and charming and not opposed to rhyming.
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Alicia Elsbeth Stallings is an American poet and translator. She was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.

Stallings was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia and studied classics at the University of Georgia, and the University of Oxford. She is an editor with the Atlanta Review. In 1999, Stallings moved to Athens, Greece and has lived there ever since. She is the Poetry Program Director of the Athens Cent

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