My Book Launch: My South By Southwest: A Cast Iron Tempo Recollection

March 3, 2014

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My South By Southwest: A Cast Iron Tempo Recollection by Elizabeth Akin Stelling

Elizabeth Akin Stelling’s My South by Southwest presents a childhood without fences − just yards and yards of Texas fields and skies.  Her language is dense and fresh and very moving − like the surprise of falling asleep on freshly washed sheets.

Shelby Stephenson, Poet and former editor, Pembroke Magazine

I’ve never been to Texas but after reading Elizabeth Akin Stellings’ fine book it seems like I have. It’s better than a Lonely Planet Guide in that the poet marks every locale with personal references. You learn more about Texas than if you went there. It preserves the past without sinking into nostalgia. It’s a gritty description of a poet’s love of a place that is gone, except in her memory and images. She shows how the land intersects with her life. She has a visual sense, shifting from the personal to the landscape, like a city scene and a still life merged together. I’ve never read anything like it. She proves through her writing that borders are just a state of mind.

Hal Sirowitz, Former Poet Laureate, Queens, NYC & 1994 Recipient NEA Endowment
To recall something is to remember something from the past, to find a special moment in time and grant new life to it. Elizabeth Akin Stelling’s My South by Southwest Recollection grants new life to all regions of Texas, with a final movement east to New Jersey. The collection begins with childhood memories of cowboy culture, of boots and stirrups, of cornbread and beans, and then it culminates in one woman’s recollection of her beloved past and all of its precious images.

Images move poetry. They replace abstract verbiage with concrete descriptions. One of the strongest poems in the collection, “Wipe That Grin Off Your Face, Boy,” uses this technique to engage the reader using images, along with local dialects, to paint a Texan memory. “Memory / and ashes fly high, / so no cowfolk is ever lonely / against its pretty back drop.” Stelling then continues in the last stanza with “More so than blast of thunder / from a storm birthing a tornado miles away, they / ain’t so up close and personal / when you’re miles from home.”

Stelling chooses to define her own poetics in My South by Southwest Recollection. Rather than utilizing traditional poetic forms or mechanics, she writes in the style of the Beat Generation by breaking lines for sound and rhythmic emphasis. By doing this, Stelling mimics the musical, local cultures of Texas.

The last stanza of “History Calls Out, ‘A Bullet Gone Wild’” is an excellent example of Stelling’s musical emphasis. Observe the following lines: “Don’t walk the edge of town / with no gun, / with no worries, / but watch your back, you’re truly naked / without your spurs.” The line breaks are deliberately placed to guide the reader through the rhythmic movement of the poem, while showing clear images to the reader.

By using Texan images, dialects, and music, Stelling writes a Western experience with an inspired voice.

– Andrew Jarvis, Poet & Editor

Her  book launch is April 6th, at 3-6:30 PM, Tre Piani, 120 Rockingham Row, Princeton, NJ, 08540. Between reading from her book (she will sign copies available for .sale) as local bands, White Fox, Danielle Steward, and Kevin J. Allen will perform while you enjoy appetizers and a cash bar (3-5 PM). Local Jersey born artist, Bill Plank, the artist, will be on hand to discuss his inspiration for the book cover.

Availability on Amazone TBA (book publishing is in the works)

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