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Conversation Pieces

Vol. 48 — Marginalia to Stone Bird

by R. B. Lemberg

$12 $10.00 (paperback)
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Shortlisted for the 2017 Crawford Award

In this powerful debut collection, Rannu Award-winning poet R. B. Lemberg explores the deep-rooted fluidity of gender, tradition, language, and desire in landscapes as familiar as high fantasy and as foreign as San Francisco. Written in the voices of immigrants, shape-changers, sentient ships in a distant future and heroes of a mythic past, her poems inhabit a fragile, vital space of complex identity and story as a conscious act, stubbornly urging the reader's attention toward the marginal, the liminal, and the unheard—a firebird cautioned to burn less brightly, a ghost-child ignored by the gods, a lover laying a road of words for a beloved to follow. By turns devastating and deeply hopeful, Marginalia to Stone Bird writes a fearless commentary on our history and others.


Marginalia to Stone Bird is a testament to how speculative poetry can succeed in capturing voice and plot and movement and feeling while still tackling big ideas and personal truths. The collection crafts a sort of map of forms and intents, a tour of what speculative poetry can be. From magic realism to high fantasy to far off-world science fiction, the poems range far and wide while maintaining a circling consistency, an interest in language and oppression and voice and freedom....Rarely have I seen such world-building attempted in poetic form but it works here just as well as in prose, the characters alive, the feeling of the world palpable. For those who love poetry in their SFF, this collection is a perfect comfort and joy. And for those who try their hardest to avoid poetry, this collection might just be the thing to change your mind. Whatever the case, Marginalia to Stone Bird is affirming and strong, dense and magical and very worth checking out.   (Read the whole review)
  —Nerds of a Feather, Charles Payseur, Jan 6, 2016

In her debut collection, Lemberg summons elements of speculative fiction to capture a world in which everything is in motion, yet remains guided by language: a song can lead the way in darkness, writing can be a portal from one world to the next, and it's possible to know an incantation "to make the stars unfold/ their arms of ghostly vapor."  
  —Publishers Weekly, March 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61976-099-8 (13 digit)
Publication Date: Feb 2016
paperback 124 pages