ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone

Someone Else's Wedding Vows


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.”
Publishers Weekly

“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 powerfulSomeone 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
  • 978-1-935639-74-9



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,
rarely knowing
and for the ordinary monstrous knowing I love.


Bianca Stone

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.



Eckleburg Book ClubEckleburg Book Club is an outreach of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, supporting good books and talented authors/poets. Check out our other outreach projects at The Eckleburg WorkshopsThe Eckleburg Bookstore, The Eckleburg Gallery and Rue de Fleurus Salon & Reading Series in NYC, DC, Baltimore & More.

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ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell



First 3 People to Answer a Discussion Question in the Comments Section Below Win a FREE eBook Edition of This Is Between Us!


For This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell

Chronicling five years of a troubled romance, This Is Between Us offers an intimate view of one couple’s struggle—from the illicit beginnings of sexual obsession to the fragile architecture of a pieced-together family. Full of sweet moments, emotional time bombs, unexpected humor, and blunt sexuality, the daily life of this man and woman, both recently divorced, with children and baggage in tow, emerges in all of its complexity. In this utterly engrossing debut novel, Kevin Sampsell delivers a confessional tale of love between two resilient people who have staked their hearts on each other. 

“Sampsell’s novel This Is Between Us is an excellent, very funny and very creepy story of a relationship. It’s narrated by a man who’s telling the story to his girlfriend, who the book’s about. This is the sort of book you should blank out an afternoon for, because you’ll want to read the whole thing all at once.” —The Stranger

“Sampsell moves on from the personal essays of his book A Common Pornography, and gives readers this sad and sweet tale of a love that doesn’t seem right.” —Flavorwire (picked This Is Between Us as a 10 Must-Read Books for November)

“The warmer moments in this novel have all the real-life glow of a flowering relationship. Sampsell’s crafting of these scenes is commendable. He is unafraid of the ‘unmentionables,’ and gracefully and bravely takes on these characters’ many sex scenes…” —Bustle

“It makes for a reading experience that feels both uncomfortably voyeuristic and engrossingly personal. This Is Between Us is a remarkable achievement.” —Joseph Riippi, Tweeds: Magazine of Literature and Art 

“Well written . . . . consisting of telling moments and epiphanies rendered in precise, poetic prose.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sampsell’s phrasing and imagery never fall short of wonderfully surprising or equally heartbreaking.” The Austin Review 

This Is Between Us lets the reader under the covers of what it means to be in human relationships—not the lame-o story everyone so desperately wants to smoothly fit within, but the crumpled and stained and yet still beautiful version we actually live. Kevin Sampsell has written the pieces of our glorious failures and fleeting victories with such poignancy my head and my heart are laughing, bleeding, and, above all, dreaming onward. You want this book more than facebook and chocolate. I love it with my whole body.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water


For A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell

“Sampsell shares loneliness with such intensity that his book almost defeats it—both his and yours. Five stars.” — TIME OUT NEW YORK

“Sampsell has written a memoir almost unlike any other…a fascinating read.” — TIME OUT CHICAGO

“Its droll style and its archaeological attentiveness to the debris of American life – the remote controls, video recorders, tight ends, and one-hit wonders of yesteryear – combined with Sampsell’s talent for observing the ordinary, infuse the most ‘common’ incidents of growing up with wit and meaning.” — HARPER’S MAGAZINE

“[A] rather miraculous act of artistic self-creation…his story alone is an adequate metaphor for itself, the life it describes, and its hard-won pleasures.” — BOOKFORUM

“The material perfectly fits the form, shards of memory fused into a compelling concretion of moments. A worthy addition to the work of such contemporary memoirists as Nick Flynn, Augusten Burroughs, Dave Eggers, and Stephen Elliott” — BOOKLIST

“Embarrassing and honest, heartbreaking and hilarious. A Common Pornography is a great memoir from one of the Northwest’s best writers.” —Willy Vlautin, author of Northline and The Motel Life

“Kevin Sampsell’s stories are brief incantations, uppercuts to the gut, prose poems given over to the bloodiest realms of the self. It’s all here: the emotional squalor, the sweet bite of loneliness. Make no mistake: Sampsell can write like hell.” —Steve Almond, author of My Life in Heavy Metal

“This is a heartbreaking and magnificent book….I am reminded of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. This is the kind of book where you want to thank the author for helping you feel less alone with being alive.” —Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir! and The Double Life is Twice as Good

“For beauty, honesty, sheer weirdness, and a haunting evocation of place, Kevin Sampsell is my favorite Oregon writer. Ken Kesey, Chuck Palahniuk—make some room on the shelf.” —Sean Wilsey, author of Oh the Glory of it All


This Is Between Us EXCERPT on Collagist
This Is Between Us EXCERPT (animated!) at The Portland Mercury
This Is Between Us EXCERPT at Tinhouse


Publisher Information & Purchase Links

  • Tin House Books
  • Page Count: 240
  • Direct Price: 12.75
  • List Price: 15.95
  • 5 x 7 3/4
  • November 2013
  • 978-1-935639-70-1
  • E-BOOK


Discussion Questions for This Is Between Us

  1. How realistic do you think the depiction of this relationship is? Which elements are familiar, unfamiliar, on your bucket list?”
  2. How does history play a foundational role in the couple’s relationship? How do their individual histories and collective history drive their futures?

  3. If these characters were your parents, what road trip would you describe your childhood as happy or a nightmare?

  4. How does the prosaic/poetic language add to your connection with the characters?

  5. How do the “drug talks” in Sampsell’s novel reflect the same secondary setting in Johnson’s “Emergency”? 
  6. How does the entity of death take an important place within this narrative? How does it form and reform?  



Kevin Sampsell is the author of the memoir A Common Pornography (2010 Harper Perennial) and the short story collection Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus) and the editor of the anthology Portland Noir (Akashic). Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress Future Tense Books, which he started in 1990. He has worked at Powell’s Books as an events coordinator and the head of the small press section for fifteen years. His essays have appeared recently in Salon, the Faster Times, Jewcy, and the Good Men Project. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’s, Nerve, Hobart, and in several anthologies. He lives in Portland, OR, with his wife and son.


Eckleburg Book ClubEckleburg Book Club is an outreach of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, supporting good books and talented authors/poets. Check out our other outreach projects at The Eckleburg WorkshopsThe Eckleburg Bookstore, The Eckleburg Gallery and Rue de Fleurus Salon & Reading Series in NYC, DC, Baltimore & More.

eckleburg-bookstore-logo rue-logo-black-white-background The Eckleburg Workshopseckleburg-gallery-logo