The Stone of Language

cvlg_achtenberg (1)

Following the troubled course of the last decade, these poems move from the stories of individual lives to the events that have entered our global consciousness. They explore the world of work, from circuses to wedding ring factories to classrooms; and the world of war, from the agonies of Israel/Palestine to the Bosnian war to New York of 9/11. They examine the need for flight and the recovery of ancestral knowledge. While they rage against injustice, they also search for healing. Above all they are songs of the people’s struggle.

The Stone of Language “move[s] from the stories of individual lives to the events that have entered our global consciousness. They explore the world of work, from circuses to wedding ring factories to classrooms; and the world of war, from the agonies of Israel/Palestine to the Bosnian war to New York of 9/11. They examine the need for flight and the recovery of ancestral knowledge. While they rage against injustice, they also search for healing. Above all they are songs of the people’s struggle.”—New Pages

“Anya Achtenberg’s visionary workshops on writing for social change have received national acclaim. With this book of poetry, she practices what she preaches—redreaming a just world—in a way that is simply breathtaking.”—Demetria Martínez

Luis Francia of The Village Voice says:
Achtenberg is a poet of lyrical intensity . . .interested in detail for the wealth of revelation and music it will yield up.”  —Luis Francia of The Village Voice

Prior to publication, the manuscript won recognition as a finalist in five competitions:
the Philip Levine Poetry Contest, the Hayden Carruth Award from Copper Canyon Press,
the May Swenson Award from Utah State University Press, Cleveland State University’s
Poetry Center Prize, and the Alice James Books awards.

Purchasing information for The Stone of Language:

1— INDIVIDUAL PURCHASERS, BOOKSTORES, LIBRARIES, & DISTRIBUTORS CAN ORDER DIRECTLY FROM UNM PRESS (the University of New Mexico Press).

See unmpress.com or call 1.800.249.7737

Cost is $12.95, the list price of the book.

2—Books can be purchased directly from Anya in-person at readings, workshops, conferences, etc., or online in the future at this website.

$12.95, free shipping and handling. 

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From The Stone of Language

Torturer’s Resignation
Anya Achtenberg

From all of this I am the only one who leaves.
The shadow of blood does not leave, nor the hands,
nor the child turned into a rope, nor the rope into fire,
nor the flame become plague of scattering and landlessness.

What is on the floor remains the stench of concrete,
what is wooden tilts forever into earth’s loneliness,
what flies off is hair, what sings is only
feet burning like drums, what lights the way
is ordinary lampshade.

I am leaving the arc of rage.
I am leaving the covenant of bitter women.
I am leaving my birth into sin and the scalding purifications,
the scream of ceremony, that eats of the fruit
between our legs.

Armies of blind cloth, I’m going. Unmap me. I am leaving
the tunnel of agony that opens to be fed.
I am leaving the arm raised in the field of arms
over the thud of child, of grace, of song.

I leave all of this for a naked dance, for innocence
in my cousin’s tent, for lunch with strangers and the fruit
of grenades blossoming only in the target of dreams.
I walk away like a man or like a woman.
My soldiers are the armies of fruit
in the market crates, spilling, rolling,
lime and mango singing.

Electric night, I leave you.
Animal incision and insect crawl,
green slip of bile and exhausted organs
waiting in the breathless river for one kiss or one note,
one dead mother, one gasping father,
for the probing of the sister of teeth and locked closets,
of blankets of shadow and postcards of blame,
I leave you, hood of nightmare, for breath, for air,
for an entire body.

The first line is borrowed from Cesar Vallejo’s poem, “Paris, October 1936”.

“Torturer’s Resignation” received the 1st prize in poetry from Another Chicago Magazine’s Chicago Literary Awards, 2000