For those who have enjoyed his previous collections, this edition of new and collected poems (22 new, the rest culled from collections published from 1972-1998) will be a welcome and rich sampling of Stone's work, wide-ranging in style and subject. The three sections of new poems include a series about incidents in Serenity Gardens, his mother's nursing home; a series of "Reflections from the Middle East" that chronicle moments evocative of classical and biblical story and ethos as well as touching, comic incidents in the life of a 60-something tourist; and a short series of poems based on memories from childhood and young adulthood.

The poems tend toward narrative; many are little stories complete with plot in one to two pages of short lines; Stone's gifts for both chronicle and condensation give many of the poems a lively tension: what is told suggests how much isn't.

As a collection it is possible here to trace the stylistic development from the early poems in The Smell of Matches with their strong autobiographical focus and sense of intimate scene and situation to the recent ones, still strongly personal, but reflective, sometimes ironic, with lines that render the self-awareness of the older poet in sometimes comic flashes.


For those who read and teach poetry in medical settings, this collection is an important addition to any collection of physician-poets. Because they cover a 30-year span in Stone's career, they offer interesting developmental threads in treatment of medical and other themes as well as in style. The sections of the book are quite distinct, some have very little medical reference.

General readers could find much pleasure here simply in the shared reflections of a husband, father, grandfather, as well as doctor whose learning has been long and deeply relational. The range of styles and the evident experimentation with form makes the poems somewhat uneven; readers who like one period may feel less drawn to another. But as a whole it promises to wear well and invite readers to repeated re-readings.


John Stone was named Emory Medical School's best clinical professor three times.


Louisiana State Univ. Press

Place Published

Baton Rouge



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