After following all roads to Dollywood in The Follower’s Tale
, Stephen Roger Powers
now brings the fairy songmother of the Smoky Mountains to a wider world in Hello, Stephen
. With poems about tattoos and paint, islands and lakes, secrets and starlight, in a voice that turns from whimsical to melancholy, this second collection of lyric and narrative poetry transports the magic of Dolly Parton to Hawaii, India, and other surprising destinations.
Brooding, funny, sensuous, textured, drunk on language––these poems, this book, is a wonder of precision, of a passionate involvement with the world and many of its (shall we say “unique”) humans.
Hello, Stephen is full of hot Georgia nights, wonderment in India, and tattoos––both real and emotional––that have been stitched onto skin. These pages illuminate the imperfections of our fragile bodies and remind us that we’re always swollen with love, loss, and lust. Here is a poet who is funny and wise, often at the same time. Through his clear-eyed honesty, we roller-coaster deep into the hidden chambers of the human heart. And best of all? His language burns with the same joy and heat of a firework sizzling up from Dollywood.
“Every story we’ve made,” states Stephen Roger Powers in Hello, Stephen, his newest book of poetry, “survives this broken life, / deep- rooted in grace of their own.” With keen empathy for the human condition, the poems in this extraordinary collection are rich with imagery––as in “three butterflies, each / the monarch of its own campanile”––and range from the witty to the deeply moving, from the erotic to the charmingly devious. Equally evident here is Powers’ complex relationship with his Constant Muse, Dolly Parton, who haunts many of these poems like a sultry apparition, and to whom we’d be wise to pay attention. Hello, Stephen, indeed.
Marilyn L.Taylor - Wisconsin Poet Laureate, 2009-2010