Published Work

The Art of Loss


In her debut collection, Myrna Stone catalogues the losses that accrue over time and the ways in which we deal with these losses: the loss of loved ones; of faith; of innocence—losses of both a personal, and of a larger, historical nature—losses that simultaneously deplete and elevate.


Camera Obscura

                                              In a moment of sun
              after rain she poses on the cottage porch,
her figure too full to be fashionable,
                            her face beneath the hat’s tilted, turned-down brim
              all chin and cheek, young
                                              and undeniably beautiful.

                                             It is nineteen-forty
              something, or so the hat and bib overalls
tell us. She is all she will become—
                           the compliant wife and mother who follows,
              by instruction, my father’s wishes:
                                              in her left hand

                                              a bamboo pole,
              in her right, pinched between thumb
and forefinger, a still-supple fin,
                           her head turned deliberately away from the walleyes
              gaping on the stringer. She is smiling
                                              although she knows

                                              it is their presence,
              not her own, that prompts the composition.
In the pages of the family album
                           she appears rarely—here at perhaps thirty, and there
              at fifty-eight, placed by my father
                                             on a bench in the garden

                                             in the last week
              of her decline, a basket of lavender asters
in her hands, her ribs almost visible
                           under the blue summer robe, her face so gaunt,
              the skin drawn so tightly over bone,
                                              she is nearly translucent.

                                              The camera,
              she would often say, is unkind, as though
it should have looked into her heart,
                           as though even in these final moments there is
              only the world and its failing
                                             loveliness. But the lens

                                             records more
              than it sees: how subtly in this exposure,
in the insistent angle of her jaw,
                           in the clear constraint of her hands gripping
              the wicker basket, she continues
                                              to give herself away.

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Reviews of The Art of Loss

“In her first book, with considerable grace and fine, lovely detail, Stone evokes her family’s world and the larger world around it, while telling stories of our perpetual waste and repair. Any book about loss, of course, must also be about memory. In the first poem, “Simulacrum,” which acts as preface for the collection, Stone recognizes that memory doesn’t salvage loss, but rather is lost itself, and out of that loss—memory’s imperfections—art arises: ‘. . . all of this lucidity even  now imperfectly / preserved, at once transmutable and intractable / so that what memory will call up are not these images / but a distillate: construct of mirror and shadow, / of an intimate face illuminating one nameless moment.’ Many of these poems—especially the ones that stick close to the poet’s Ohio-based, Roman Catholic home—are themselves vividly memorable art...”

-David Daniel, Ploughshares, Issue 89, Winter 2002-03

In this consistently fine collection . . . Stone shows that poetry is foremost about reclaiming lost time, about creating lasting monuments to the forces that pass through our lives . . . Perhaps the greatest strength in these powerful poems lies in Stone’s iconographic artistry. Infusing her verse with dignity and grace, she has turned poetry into a spiritual discipline, attuned to the mercy and beauty of the world, which often appear unbidden: ‘And no one, not even the child crouched / at the back of the nave, sees—high in the apex / of the shadowy vault above them, in the ghostly / flutter of a dove’s wings—the harbinger, the spirit / in the flesh, the Angel of Light / descending.’ Stone charts the river of meaning that runs through our lives—one that we can best navigate by looking back. And whatever else we may say about the nature of poetry, without the spiritual incandescence of Stone’s first poems, the genre will always be less than it should.” 

-Arlice Davenport, TheWichita Eagle


Praise for The Art of Loss

If poetry is, to quote Myrna Stone, a bit out of context, ‘a sort of sunlight on the tongue,’ this impressive first collection is full of bright speech. Rooted in her Midwestern, Catholic girlhood, Stone’s poetry is intrinsically spiritual in bent, illuminating those moments in which her characters, all of them ‘souls riddled with yearning,’ are at their most human, most flawed, and most blessed. Whether it is dusk, dawn, or the dull glare of winter, Stone’s gorgeous language ‘annotates the light’ and with it our understanding of what constitutes dignity and grace, love and loss.
— Enid Shomer, author of Stars at Noon: Poems from the life of Jacqueline Cochran, This Close to the Earth, and Stalking the Florida Panther
To be sure, it is the art transcending the loss that marks the value of these first poems by Myrna Stone. There is a full adult voice in this writing, a sense of the story earned before it is elevated. Stone is another of those fine Midwestern poets of lived-through experience.
— Stanley Plumly, author of Old Heart, The Marriage in the Trees, and Boy on the Step
Recklessly formal and daringly casual, Myrna Stone’s poems set page after page aglow with amplitude of feeling and vibrancy of detail. This book reminds us terribly and beautifully of all in life that can be ‘saved, but never kept.
— Jeff Gundy, author of Abandoned Homeland, Somewhere Near Defiance, and Spoken Among the Trees