Our World by Shelby Stephenson
"Shelby Stephenson’s rhapsodic, kaleidoscopic Our World testifies both to the blessings of longevity and to the frailties of age—both to the joys of long memory and to the facts of forgetting. In these poems, past and present are equally vivid: see 'The Mother’s Tale,' for instance, or 'Flummoxed & Bumfuzzled.' And against the most painful of human changes, he sets the constancy of nature’s cycles, as in 'Walk into Spring' and 'Songbirds.' Once again, Stephenson seems about the liveliest poet living."
—Robert M. West, editor of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons
"Since Shelby Stephenson and I were born in the same year in the same state, I am privileged to believe that his Our World in some ways touches my world. And I can vouch for the authenticity of his vision of that world—its landscape, idiom, history, humor, cuisine, as well as its resonant music."
—William Harmon, James Gordon Hanes Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Shelby Stephenson drags the river of love and memory in this new collection, from sassy-sweet songs to his beloved wife Nin, to the 'deep and wide gladness' of being alive, to thoughts of his father’s Stetson hats and White Owl cigars, of his mother humming as she cuts cloth for a dress. Now he goes plunging into the burning ache of romantic love: 'Those years are gone forever, Sweet, / Socked, soaked, gone for ever! / We look in glass – / Nothing comes back; / But the hands fumbling, buttery, a path, / To stifle Love’s blunt quiver.”'If poetry gets more visceral than this, quick, show me where."
—Dannye Romine Powell, author of Nobody Calls Me Darling Anymore
Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. He was a 2014 inductee to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. Since 2015, Shelby has served his home state as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. His website is www.shelbystephenson.com.