Let’s Talk Poetry: Myrna Stone

September 22, 2013

Neil Carpathios

Contributing Columnist

Myrna Stone is one of the finest poets writing today. Her specialty, and the trait upon which she has made her name, is traditional poetry—in other words, poems that follow strict patterns of rhythm and rhyme. In this day and age when poetry has largely become a free verse art, the verse of classic forms is somewhat of an outlier. Most poets nowadays do not have the discipline, skill, or enthusiasm to write poems that require a tightly followed adherence to rhyme schemes and syllabics. In the hands of many poets, these traditional creations run the risk of seeming too stiff or artificial. Myrna Stone’s poems display the ability to be loyal to the demands of such craft features while still breathing naturally on the page. She truly is a master formalist.

Stone is widely published and her verse has garnered many awards. Her three previous full-length books are: The Casanova Chronicles (Etruscan Press, 2010), How Else to Love the World (Browser Books, 2007), and The Art of Loss (Michigan State University Press, 2001). Her newest book, just released, is: In the Present Tense: Portraits of My Father (White Violet Press, 2013). This new book is one of the most ambitious, unique and moving poetry collections I’ve read. The entire book chronicles the last, difficult years of her elderly father’s life, his fall into dementia, and his ultimate death. Strung together, the poems create a narrative arc that tells a touching personal story—and remarkably, all the poems are sonnets.

Here is one from the book that describes a particular visit made by her father’s granddaughter to the nursing home:

His Granddaughter Flies in for a Two-Hour Visit

Our mother’s namesake, Ruby, breezes through

the lobby grinning, and mellow as usual,

flops next to Pop in a chair, her eyes blue-

gray today, her youthful energy palpable.

“I’m fab, and glad I’m here, Pa-pa,” she says,

and pecks his cheek. He seems awed, and quite

unsure of who she is. “I’m Ruby,” she says.

He stares at her, and then in a forthright

voice responds, You’re certainly not. It’s true,

for there’s just one Ruby filling his life

with marrow, and it’s she he recalls anew

each day. Still, when this imposter, rife

with moxie, baits and flirts, she nearly sways

him. Such a girl might stay with him for days.

I encourage you to seek out this amazing book. It can be purchased through Amazon.com, as well as other online distributors. Myrna Stone lives in Greenville, Ohio.

Address poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. 740-351-3478.