Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 30, 2010

What I’m Reading: Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone by Laura Shovan

I’m drawn to poetry written for adults but in which children make important appearances, so after reading a few of Laura Shovan’s poems online, all alive with attention to the domestic world, I knew I’d want to read her chapbook. Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone won the Harriss Poetry Prize and was published by CityLit Press this month.

Some of us know Laura through her blog at Author Amok: A Frenzy of Writing, Teaching and Parenting Ah, the good life. Laura spreads her love for poetry to children as a mother and teacher, but also to any adults who care. This month, for instance, Laura’s been posting about the poet laureates within each of the fifty states. It’s been fun to read examples of their poetry and backgrounds as well as Laura’s comments. But watch out, those states who don’t have laureates do not make her happy.

Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone, her first collection, is structured loosely around the shape of a narrator’s life. As the title suggests, the subjects are small and large, what we can see, eat, stand on or build with. The first poem, and the next to last, have a highway, mother, and child. In that first poem, a mother hears a voice that makes her steer to side of the road, saving both her life and that of her unborn child. The narrator continues to reflect on the nature of voices we can’t quite locate, as well as other accidents and near misses.

The poems move from past to present, but always with someone looking back and letting the past shape present vision. The focus in on what’s not public. For instance, instead of a wedding, we see in “Aida” the first time the narrator spent a night away from her new husband. I loved the sharp and warm observations of the small crucial shifts within a moment that are the heart of change. Dishes in the sink. Cars parked beside porches. “A cup of light upstairs.” A six year old scaling a snow bank to meet his father. Picking peaches. Listening to plants. Noting them listening back.

I hope you read these poems.

For more Poetry Friday posts, please visit:



  1. What I love most about poetry is the poet’s ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. This collection sounds wonderful. I’m on it!

  2. Thanks for featuring Laura’s chapbook. I’m anxious to see it :)!

  3. “Listening to plants. Noting them listening back.”
    I think I shall endeavor to be a plant listener!

  4. thanks!
    for the lovely review, Jeannine. It’s a pleasure to learn what people respond to in these poems. I hadn’t noticed the bookended highways, but you’re absolutely right!
    Laura S.

  5. You put that well, Candace: it’s what I love, too. Those little wake up calls. I promise you after reading this collection you will never see or hear a pussy willow quite the same again!

  6. I’m glad you’ll have something to swoon about once April is past, Jama!

  7. I’m glad you found your calling!

  8. Re: thanks!
    It was my pleasure to read and think about this book, and I look forward to going back into it soon.

  9. Yes, I must add this book, too, to my reading list!
    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  10. Sounds fabulous! I’ve enjoyed Laura’s work on her Poet Laureate project, and it would be fun to hear her poetic voice, too!

  11. Laura, I’m glad to have pointed to something to add to your list! We’re all going to miss Poetry Month, but I have a good fresh list to keep me going through spring and summer, too!

  12. Laura’s passion for poetry shows in everything she touches, but I think you’ll enjoy the intimate voice here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: