A Sampler of Poems
Courses & Materials
Letters to Friends
Art Gallery
The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity

The Flagrant Dead
The Painted Clock


Stephen BluestoneStephen Bluestone’s poems do miraculous things, by force of language directed through his fierce peculiar rhythm; best, they preserve what they value. Because our civilization loves speed, change, loss, and forgetfulness, a poet’s obligation is also a poet’s opportunity–to hold and keep, to make a stillness despite noise–to praise, to celebrate, and to enact endurance. In Stephen Bluestone’s old opera singers, in his afternoon/on its way into history, and in his recovered Circumstance of the Porch, he provides what the age never demands but deeply requires.
                                                                                                 Donald Hall

So forgive me–you will–but make it new, original, your own,/ no matter how strange or beautiful, or far from home, advised Robert Hayden in a poem of Stephen Bluestones.  And he did. Poem after poem [in  The Flagrant Dead] is strange–and original and beautiful–whether translations or dramatic speeches, whether of love or machinery, or old technologies, or outrageous lists, whether influenced by Robert Browning or Hart Crane. We have, in our language, poems of passion and poems of the mind, but they are not too often combined. Bluestone has found a way to combine them. He is a steady student of our culture, as he is of our history. He misses nothing.
–Gerald Stern

“Stephen Bluestone’s new book,
The Flagrant Dead, has a startling and I think incontrovertible idea: the dead are with us, whether it be the pattern of the carpet in a mosque or the look in the eye of a young girl listening. Whatever has happened must still be happening–the making of a great automobile, the Maserati, and the ingenuity of the owner-manager of the Rose Theater in March 1598, who brought dead scenes to life. In Bluestone’s poetry the plays of Ben Jonson and the escapades of Harpo Marx go on forever. The Flagrant Dead is a delightful and astonishing book.

                                                                      –Louis Simpson

"The eponymous first half of The Painted Clock is simply a tour de force, having the paradoxical mixture of dead-on particularity and obliquity one associates with the Psalms, which it remembers. So often have the horrors of the Nazi death camps been chronicled that one would think they beggar fresh presentation. Not so: si monumentum requiris, circumspice. And the pure range of the second half, which brings to life figures as disparate as baseball great Ichiro Suzuki, Tolstoy, and Lorca, is equally formidable. The agonies of human existence abound here, but as Bluestone writes at one point: 'the world is a lyre; / its music heals me; / its melodies comfort my soul.'"

                                                                      –Sydney Lea


Happy to report that The Painted Clock is now out, with a fabulous cover designed by Burt & Burt. Release date was March 1. Formal launch: March 13, at the Connell Student Center, Mercer University. Other events in the NYC area afterwards. Watch this space or Facebook for further details. In the meantime, you can order The Painted Clock either from Mercer University Press at or Amazon at

--Here are four links to four segments of a double reading on August 8, 2013 at the Cornelia St. Cafe that I did with Anya Silver, a fabulous poet. We read on the same night that Arietha Lockhart performed the NYC premiere of Curtis Bryant's setting of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity." Anya was terrific, as usual. I've added text crawls of the poems, which really help. Great audience.


--Color-corrected, audio enhanced, titled, and edited from the raw Cornelia St Cafe footage, "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" song cycle video is up on Youtube at last. Arietha Lockhart was in excellent voice that evening. And the music, thanks to Curtis Bryant, is gorgeous. I’m not objective, I know, but this is one of the great pieces of American music and deserves to be widely performed. In fact, as of March 2018, Curtis Bryant is a finalist for this piece in the American Composers Prize competition, which is still underway. Thanks, as well, to Sunny Knable for his outstanding work at the piano. See link.

--Recent work has appeared in The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, Letra Franca, and Mizmor L'David Poetica Anthology. Of recent anthologies in which work has appeared, I very much admire Kevin Cantwell’s excellent collection Writing on Napkins at the Sunshine Club. "The Pitcher," one of my favorites, dedicated to Sal Maglie, which originally appeared in Aethlon and then in The Flagrant Dead has also appeared in a new Aethlon sports literature anthology.


--In May 2010 my new version of Psalm 104 ("I Sing of Light"), set by Curtis Bryant, had its world premiere at the Cathedral of Christ the King, in Atlanta.  This  four-minute work was performed by the Schola Nova (Women's Choir) and culminated an array of liturgical compositions for the Atlanta Faith Partners Residency, sponsored by the American Composers Forum.

--On January 30, 2010, at the Woodruff House, on the Mercer University campus, friends, family, colleagues, and students (past and present) celebrated my retirement after many years at Mercer. Stanley Roberts led a chamber group of the Mercer Singers in "Holiness Everywhere," and Arietha Lockhart, accompanied by Carol Goff, sang Curtis Bryant's "Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" suite.  After the music there were roasts and toasts. Here's a link to a slide show of the evening (thanks to Jerome Gratigny for the photos):

--Here's an album of the Louis Simpson 2008 AWP Tribute. Fellow panelists included Peter Stitt, Peter Makuck, Mark Jarman, and Michael Waters. Louis Simpson was present and read his poetry. The "Tribute to Louis Simpson" session was selected by AWP for its digital archives.

--At the Georgia Writers Association's 2008 annual meeting The Flagrant Dead received the Taran Memorial Poetry Prize.

--See Menu on this page for "Art Gallery." A selection from an exhibition entitled "Ut Pictura Poesis" (as in painting so in poetry) that took place at the Hardman Hall Art Gallery on the Mercer University main campus in January and February 2009. The show featured the work of thirty Mercer students in painting, print making, and digital imaging in response to my poetry. On the "Art Gallery" page, texts of the interpreted poems are linked with the art work.

--Happy to report that The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity (1995) has been reprinted by Mercer University Press. To order this book, as well as The Flagrant Dead, please click on the links on this page. 

Many thanks to Keith Bluestone, Jerome Gratigny, and Robert Allen  for their work in
designing and maintaining this Web site.