the river of stones book
Here it is! The cover design for the book we're creating to remember and celebrate the January 2011 river. (If you are on our mailing list you will have seen this already.)
Since the beginning of this month, well over a hundred people have submitted ten of their favorite stones for us to consider. It's been really interesting to read through the submissions and see which themes occur over and over again, to see what works well as a small-stone and what doesn't work so well.
Right from the beginning of the project we've been encouraging you to really look, and listen and so on and record what you discover. The best of the stones are ones that put us straight in touch with the world, often in a fresh way. In the best small stones, the writer is almost invisible.
I looked up Vicki Feaver's page on the Poetry Archive after I learnt she was reading at The Shore in Edinburgh, along with small stone writer Alistair Cook (who will be reading some small stones there). At the top of the page is a wonderful quote from Feaver that echoes what I've learnt reading the stones:
In a good poem the poet disappears. That's what the struggle with language is all about. The point is that in the finished poem you don't lay yourself bare. You create a strongbox of wordsFor me, when a writer lays themselves bare it creates a closed piece of writing without any mystery. I'm reminded of what the Japanese playwright Zeami said: "When you feel ten, express seven." The audience is drawn in by the mystery; into conversation with the performer. In the space between seven and ten there is a question: What is hidden? What is the mystery of human nature? Of the world?
The best small stones leave me with something to think about, rather than telling me how it is. If the question of the stone is answered in the stone - what is there to take away?
We've included something from nearly everyone that has submitted to us. The ones that we're not including fall into two categories, they are either too long and not small stones, or they lay the writer bare, to the exclusion of anything else.
We have had some really lovely submissions. If you have written small stones and haven't submitted, we'd still love to hear from you. I know looking at my own stones I sometimes don't want anyone else to see them at all, but a fresh pair of eyes might see something completely different. Send, send, send!
The submission deadline is the 28th February. Email ten of your favorites to me, Kaspalita. Please write your small stones in the body of the email and include your name.