Charles's Reviews > Marginalia to Stone Bird

Marginalia to Stone Bird by Rose Lemberg
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's review
Jan 05, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry, stat_1, fantasy, reviewed

Stuff I Read - Marginalia to Stone Bird by Rose Lemberg Review

Apparently I have been on a speculative poetry kick because this is the second collection I have read in about as many weeks. I will admit that I knew what to expect a bit more with this collection, mostly because I had already read a number of the works contained within in my internet wanderings. The collection as a whole is divided into three parts, organized to take the reader on a sort of journey, across the waters and into uncertainty, through violence and into a different kind of violence, from oppression to oppression but with a growing fire within, a growing hope and power that leaps from the page. What results is an amazing collection that captures the spirit of voice and language and self, that refuses to be chained or stifled snuffed out.

I really can't say enough about the organization of the collection, with each section growing more comfortable with the strange, the unearthly, with form becoming looser and more and more speculative elements creeping in so that, by the end, the verse is dominated by fantasy and science fiction, by sweeping epics ripe with world building and tight plotting and complex morality. The earlier poems are striking in their own right though, shorter as a general rule and very concerned with movement and language, translation and transition. Throughout the entire collection there is a sort of conversation going on about how to handle pain and loss and the voices of others. How to reach out and not erase. How to keep imperialism out of compassion. I thought the first section set up a lot of those ideas that poems in the later sections attempted to give some answer to, or at least echo meaningfully.

Starting in the second section things start to open up. A number of the poems begin to be about voice and having the will and the strength to speak, to tell the stories within without bowing to the pressures to fit in, the pressure to fit into a predefined pattern. By the third section the poems are fully embracing this idea, building words, expanding instead of keeping things small, easier to digest. Poems become stories as complex as any prose out there and build on each other, creating vibrant settings with recurring characters alive in their depictions and struggles, with deep histories and memorable personalities. It's rare enough to see poems using a shared universe like linked short stories, but these poems also manage to make subtle and complex points about the pain and the role of help, about war and displacement and ignorance and privilege.

In the end, the collection lives and breathes magic and strength. The poem that opens the collection talks of burning bright, of rejecting the safe in order to do something worth doing. And the collection certain accomplishes that, taking a great many chances with form and content, with pushing the bounds of what people can expect from speculative poetry. Mixing myth and magic with displacement and power, the poems light the fires of imagination and justice. There's so much to like here, and for me the collection rates a 9/10.
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2016 – Started Reading
January 5, 2016 – Shelved
January 5, 2016 –
page 125
100.0% "An amazing collection of poetry. Solidly constructed and just amazing poems. Yes."
January 5, 2016 – Shelved as: poetry
January 5, 2016 – Shelved as: stat_1
January 5, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
January 5, 2016 – Finished Reading
January 14, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed

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