Friday, March 14, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother" by Bianca Stone

"Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother" by Bianca Stone is the Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for March 14, 2014.  It was offered by Poets.org's Poem-A-Day, also on March 14, 2014.  A link to the poem, including the poet's notes, may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23911?utm_source=PAD%3A+Making+Apple+Sauce+with+my+Dead+Grandmother+by+Bianca+Stone&utm_campaign=poemaday_031414&utm_medium=email.

Bianca Stone is the editor of the small press, Monk Books.  She is both a poet and a visual artist with several poetry chapbooks and unique poetry comic books to her name.  Additional information about this up-and-coming poet/artist may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/bianca-stone.

Bianca Stone's dead grandmother was the poet Ruth Stone (1915 - 2011) (pictured).  She lived most of her life in a farmhouse in Vermont, but periodically held various teaching positions, including a Professorship in the English Department of the State University of New York at Binghamton.  She published thirteen books of poetry in her lifetime, most of them when she was elderly.  One of her books was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; another won the National Book Award.  Her many other awards and honors included two  Guggenheim Fellowships, the Wallace Stevens Award, and the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.  Additional biographical information about her may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/ruth-stone.  A touching tribute to her from her grand-daughter Bianca published in the July/August 2013 issue of Poetry may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/article/246080.

Another elegy to Ruth Stone, "Suddenly" by Sharon Olds, was reviewed in Songs of Eretz on November 5, 2013.  A link to that review may be found here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2013/11/review-of-suddenly-by-sharon-olds.html.

"Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother" is presented in four stanzas of free verse.  The first three stanzas have five lines each, the final stanza only four.  The "missing" fifth line in the last stanza may be symbolic for how Bianca Stone misses her grandmother, or perhaps it represents a loss of words in her grief, or perhaps it is symbolic of acceptance and moving on with life.

The first three stanzas are macabre.  The poet envisions literally making apple sauce with her dead grandmother.  The poet uses worms to evoke the memory of her grandmother removing worms from apples, something that would have to be done for organic apples grown in an orchard in rural Vermont.  The worms also evoke the creepy-crawlies that feast on rotting corpses.  The last sentence of the first stanza may be an oral sex reference, which would make the imagery even more macabre and bizarre--or perhaps I just have a dirty mind.

The final, four-line, stanza hints at moving on, at an effort to "bring [grandmother] back right," in memory rather than literally digging up her corpse.  The poet uses cinnamon to evoke an olfactory memory--the most powerful kind of memory.  Her grandmother is pictured as throwing worms "back into the yard," perhaps symbolic of returning them to the earth behind the farmhouse and underneath the raspberry bushes where she is buried.



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