Published: 1 April 2014
Print: 5×8 in., 40 pp.
$11 print | free download
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The sestina is a form in which words repeat regularly, intricately, appearing and reappearing in new contexts with new meanings. Sam Lohmann’s Unless As Stone Is emerged from a few years of living with Dante’s sestina, “Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra”. He allowed the text to appear in its own new—if irregularly scheduled—contexts. New translations, new scenery, new meanings; new phrases entered the poem (from García Lorca, from Sappho, from strangers and from loved ones) and found their own patterns. What resulted is a serial poem in seven movements, incorporating several strategies of reincorporation. “Quandunque i colli fanno più nera ombra“—”All our oddity operates / on changing verity”.
“The only way out of Dante is to drill straight through. Whether his Comedy, his sonnets to Beatrice or in Sam’s case resetting the ribcage of this exquisite sestina. Lohmann allows a designer Italian grass stain to bleed up from in between purely engraved snatches of song. A recurring dislocation that invariably uncovers several chambers bursting with light. ‘Eros who locks us as in amber / leers from shadows where he is’.”
“Sam Lohmann’s rift on Dante’s sestina forms an archipelago of inducements to renew love and re-experience language.”
Sam Lohmann lives in Portland, Oregon with Michaela Curtis-Joyce and their infant daughter, Cecilia. He works as a librarian and book cataloger. His other books and chapbooks are The Long Face (Editions Plane, 2013), Stand on this picnic bench and look north (Publication Studio, 2011), Lines on Canvas (c_L, 2011), and Onlooking (Airfoil, 2009). In collaboration with James Yeary, he illustrated House Music (Division Leap, 2014) and co-wrote Rolling in the Easy Circumstances (Great Fainting Spells, 2012). He edits the handmade poetry fanzine Peaches and Bats, and (with David Abel) co-edits Airfoil Chapbooks.