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American Spelling

by Andrea Stone

“Amazing, splendid! Andrea Stone’s anonymous protagonist—a mom who drops her tot (accidentally or murderously) from a bridge—displays the desperate sentiments of Plath, but also the frustration and alienation of Eliot’s Prufrock. So, Stone’s story must out as poetry, ‘the work of verse and belief,’ as a disturbed stream-of-consciousness. The work exudes generic originality, organic genius: A ‘dropped’ baby signals a mom who’s dropped out of maternity, opted out of ‘family negotiations…a lot like federal politics,’ and becomes the ‘u’ dropped out of Americanese (words like ‘color’ and ‘neighbor’). Although American Spelling muses on the unspeakable crime of infanticide, its unceasing lyricism and urbane imagery render it a beautiful, newborn twin to William Carlos Williams’s verse-novel, Paterson. Like that work, American Spelling is a quirky, engrossing melange of ‘syllables [that] involve the whole mouth’ and language whose simplicity is drop-dead scenic.”

— George Elliott Clarke, Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada