01
Jan
11

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the World by Tom Holmes and released by Amsterdam Press on 1-1-11 is the first book release of 2011.

The Oldest Stone in the World

Tom Holmes wrote this book almost 11 years ago. It was his bridge from his heady, intellectual poems into the poems of everyday speech, images, and much closer to humanity. In this collection, you can see the blossoming of Holmes’ imagination while maintaining a loose grip on formalism.

Wanda Schubmehl says of the book:

Tom Holmes has given us a Stone for the ages, a physical metaphor for the tension between our anxiety about death and our fierce compulsion to live fully. The language is simple, but the electric effect of its surprising associations and vision propels us into vast new landscapes of possibility. Almost Jungian in its effect, the work vibrates with mystery and significance, and readers will find that the Stone has a tendency to speak quietly to them long after the book is put away.

Steve Fellner says:

What a tremendously generous gift! Written about ten years ago, Tom Holmes shares some of his vital early work. Imagine a collection with a literary conceit rivaling Louise Gluck’s in The Wild Iris and with the influence of Donald Revell’s more spare lyrics. By reading Holmes’ past work, I can’t imagine what the future will bring. All I know is this: I can’t wait to read it.

Here’s the introduction to the collection of poems:

The Oldest Stone in the World came out of an experiment to write a poem at the rate of one word per day. Because of this slow pace, I believed I would be able to meditate upon that word all day & explore rhythms & undertones that could attach to & build from the word-of-the-day. In addition, I would also use the word-of-the-day in another poem. Thus, each day I would write a word, which contributed to a slowly developing poem, & I would write a completely different poem that included the word-of-the-day. The experiment ceased after 30days. In practice, the experiment did not work as well as anticipated. However, there was a nineteen-day run of poems that resulted in this book.

I first learned of the stone in Guy Davenport’s essay “Olson” in his book The Geography of the Imagination. I then researched & read what I could find that was written in English of the stone. The most helpfulplace was Rev. T. Dempsey’s The Delphic Oracle. Though he had good information, he didn’t have much information. Thus, I was left to fragments of information & my imagination & meditations.

This stone, however, actually exists. According to Davenport’s essay,“Olson,” “In September 1913, the French archaeologist FrançoisCourby unearthed this ‘omphalos’ at Delphi.” In addition, Plutarch has written about it, but I have failed to find that writing translated into English.

Nonetheless, I give you The Oldest Stone in the World.

This is Tom Holmes’ fifth collection of poems.

This beautifully handmade book from Cindy Kelly and all the good people at Amsterdam Press is currently available for sale at Etsy. To get your copy, click here. Soon it will be available at Amazon, too. But Etsy is a cool place to get it. It’s like going to the local book store.

It will also soon be available at the wonderful Lift Bridge Books in Brockport.

The cover art is a drawing by Guy Davenport, which appears in the “Olson” essay. The image is reproduced with the permission of the Guy Davenport Estate.

The book is dedicated to Charles Olson, Guy Davenport, and Pat Meanor.

Charles Olson the great poet, Guy Davenport the wonderful essayist, and Pat Meanor the professor from SUNY Oneonta who first brought my full attention to poetry.

Enjoy the read!!//


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The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013. Forthcoming in late Autumn of 2014.)

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