For Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone
Someone Else’s Wedding Vows reflects on the different forms of love, which can be both tremendously joyous and devastatingly destructive. The title poem confronts a human ritual of marriage from the standpoint of a wedding photographer. Within the tedium and alienation of the ceremony, the speaker grapples with a strange human hopefulness. In this vein, Stone explores our everyday patterns and customs, and in doing so, exposes them for their complexities. Drawing on the neurological, scientific, psychological, and even supernatural, this collection confronts the difficulties of love and family. Stone rankles with a desire to understand, but the questions she asks are never answered simply. These poems stroll along the abyss, pointing towards the absurdity of our choices. They recede into the imaginative in order to understand and translate the distressing nature of reality. It is a bittersweet question this book raises: Why we are like this? There is no easy answer. So while we look down at our hands, perplexed, Someone Else’s Wedding Vows raises a glass to the future.
“Stone’s poems astutely and honestly address the longing and cost of human connections.”
“Bianca Stone’s poems are powerful, moving, and original. There is an amazing image center in her brain! Her brain (psyche, heart) can wrestle the matter of life to the ground (a pleasure for matter), and shapechange with it, and it does not give up its ghost but reveals, in joy and sorrow, its spirit.Stone’s poems are highly charged, lively, and interesting. They are fiercely anti-sentimental, and emotionally generous. They have a distinctive underlying grieving compassion. I see in her work the natural weirdness and leaping of our minds. But wilder! It’s as if she can take her mind out of gear, out of its prosaic limitations, and overhear, and sing, the strange true thoughts and feelings we have when we’re at our most genuine and unprotected. In her poems we’re in the presence of a naked human voice, not concealing itself—or over-reaching to expose itself—which dives as deep as voices go.”
—Sharon Olds, Pulitzer-Prize–winning author of Stag’s Leap
“Let’s say hypersensitivity ranks high up among poetry’s necessary attributes. Let’s say that to ride the back of a parable and make it past the bell rates further fervent notice, and let’s say we want to pay attention to a poet who says we will perceive our own pain in others/and we will know if we are capable of loving them. Open the book, read this poem: ‘Reading a Science Article on the Airplane to JFK,’ and then I’m confident you’ll want to spend a lot of time with Bianca Stone’s astonishing debut book.”
—Dara Wier, author of Remnants of Hannah
“I read the work of our most brilliant young poets to be reminded that it is still possible, despite everything, for our abused and decimated language to ring out the difficult truths of full-on awareness. The best of them, like Bianca Stone, do not settle for mere cleverness. They know it is not enough to be brilliant, that it is essential in poetry not merely to report the miseries and blessings, but to transform them. When she says, ‘I saw the devil with his stitching techniques/textiles and shadow/saw his hands that never stopped’ or ‘I found a small notebook called The People of Distress,’ I really believe her, and believe she is going to the difficult places and writing these poems in service not just to herself, but to us all, so that we can go to them and together find a little hope.”
—Matthew Zapruder, author of Come on All You Ghosts
“Bianca Stone’s poetry has the glow of 21st-century enlightenment and lyric possession. Hilarious and powerful, Someone Else’s Wedding Vows will have you come to terms with the vehemence of her magic.”
—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company
Publisher Information & Purchase Links
- Tin House Books
- Page Count: 88
- Direct Price: $11.20
- List Price: $14.00
- 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
- March 2014
- PURCHASE HERE
Someone Else’s Wedding Vows
The rise of Australopithecus. The weird clouds over Long Island
at the classic wedding. The crowd frightened of what it means
having O’Hara’s avocado salad poem read.
It’s an evil waste of time for me to congratulate anything.
Accuracy comes to me, slips out
in fragments of my earlier works recited
in the secret weapon defense committees.
I am president of the clams. Seduced by foodservice;
purple squid sinking in their own pitiful mantle,
irrevocable among the dinner rolls.
I would pay to feel good all the time.
But I’m telling stories to the churchless evening,
watching lost guests take paper plates to inoffensive tables
illuminated with Greta Garbo centerpieces.
Bring me to the oak out front and tell me you love me
I say to the family dog. The pool is lit with unscented candles.
Hillery stands on a chair;
we’re taking the wedding photographs,
practicing someone else’s dutiful permanence.
Clusters of sequin around the bar;
hand reaches around a white waist and considers literature
for the first time in months—
this is the sea that arranges inside us,
the burning ship that drifts with its burning, anxious crew—
the rest we can sum up in several lines about perpetuity.
The rest we can owe to our complex digestive systems
working out the squid covered in light-reflective cells,
changing color according to the gut
which humans will someday be able to do.
This is a colder evening in September.
The sun drapes its modern dread across everything.
The front lawn has never had its chance with violent, unkempt beauty—
but something dark stirs in the incipient mums.
I want to embrace whatever is firmer and bigger than myself.
Like the sound of the wind around the tent
or everyone inventing their own colloquial happiness,
acting out, too bored or wired
with rancor to stop eating. And it’s true
I spent my whole life in fear of sharing my mind
but with a longing for it to be taken.
Year after year I could not even order myself to be touched.
I became a waitress who looked sad, dropping occasionally
into the bed of a maniac, who looked sadder
and meaner. I should have gone out into the field every night
to watch black bears growl in honeysuckle.
Or absorbed myself in the essays of Empson, which I never finished.
I’m still somewhere in the mountains of Vermont,
exhibiting relatively high intelligence.
Somewhere I’m communicating.
And where it’s driest I sit down with my wet drink.
I drink for the incidental. The heart of dust.
For my family and all their uneven moods.
For this audience of discreet psychotics
poising for photographs.
For the living deer ravaging gardens.
For the touch of sub-shrubs: lavender,
periwinkle and thyme—
touching the lingering otherness—
for this not being known,
and for the ordinary monstrous knowing I love.
Heavily influenced by a family of writers and artists, including the late poet Ruth Stone, Bianca Stone began writing poems at a very early age. She collaborated with the poet and essayist Anne Carson on Antigonick, published by New Directions in 2012. She lives in New York City.
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