CONVERSATION WITH THE STONE WIFE

Natalie Eilbert

This sold-out chapbook is now available as a free ebook. Read or download the PDF here.
Conversation with the Stone Wife, a chapbook of poems by Natalie Eilbert, delivers to us a Venus who is as complex and contradictory as any flesh-and-blood human. Here Venus gets to talk back, and what she has to say is both long-awaited and timeless. ‘…what I own is the damage,’ the speaker chillingly states ‘of your theorized life.’  This complex illustration of female-hood is one of the reasons this chapbook is so thrilling; it offers no easy explanations, or explorations. Eilbert is a remarkably deft poet. Her skill with form, along with the music of her words, lends a beauty to the book that scrapes against the sometimes difficult or raw language.” —Lynn Melnick, Luna Luna
“Among the post-apocalyptic rubble, you can still hear the quivering orgasm of human inquisition in Natalie Eilbert’s first [chap]book, Conversations With the Stone Wife, to be released by Bloof Books this year. Eilbert unburies the Venus of Willendorf, a figure whom civilization’s increasingly greedy demands have been pinned on- in one form or another-for centuries, and dares to ask her about wifery, motherhood, muse-life, and fertility. Quite understandably, the Venus has other things on her mind, which Eilbert voices horrifically, sensually, and with a historian’s antecedent yet prophetic look over the shoulder. The world this chapbook creates is one posterior enough to systemic collapse to admit that it’s ruined itself. Still, somehow, the people expect an oracle with a velvet voice. Instead, they get the vengefully coarse whisper of the primeval returned to say, ‘I told you so.’ Still, the stone wife is not all doom and gloom. She’s going to have her way with you through Eilbert’s lush verbs and forceful repetition, and you’re going to love it. —Monica McClure, Electric Literature
 
“Natalie Eilbert hints at her way of reckoning, carrying the machine, hoisting the flag, creating this new etymology (and further, the new country), with pained story and images of the so cruel is so beautiful variety. [She] rocks the poetic boat right with her snapping of plastic forks, daring you to dig into this muck with her, so dangerously enchanting.” —Vouched Books
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Description

June 2014
Limited Edition Handmade
Bloof Books Chapbook Series
Vol. 2: Issue 3
ISSN: 2373-163x
44 pp.

Conversation with the Stone Wife by Natalie Eilbert was the third title in the 2014 Bloof Books Chapbook Series. It was issued in a limited edition of 100 handmade copies, followed by a digital release. It’s “artifact” design concept was inspired by the same figurine as the poems themselves. Like the Woman of Villendorf, each book was been colored by hand, rubbed with natural earth pigments—red ochre and yellow ochre, plus river valley soils dug in Bloof’s native NJ. The title plate appliqué is inspired by a museum display, printed in archival ink. The interiors were laser-printed on natural white acid-free, archival-quality paper. Handsewn in natural twine.

From the author

“These poems engage the ‘Venus’ of Willendorf, the 30-35,000 year old figurine found in Willendorf, Austria over a century ago. Hundreds of these ‘venus’ figurines were found all throughout Europe and Asia, and many scientists theorize that nomadic tribes created them during the ice age in a phenomenon called Peak Shift Effect, in which a people creates art to exaggerate what they lack. Here, adequate fat storage and fertility and general human robustness. I’m interested in this, because I have a history of body dysmorphia and history of food issues. I just uncomfortably looked to my thighs and want to apologize but will continue sipping iced americano instead. So many of these poems were written over four years ago—not a long stretch of time relatively speaking—but for my current aesthetics and bureau of ideas, feels eternal. Coincidentally, I’m facing these old poems as artifacts of neuroses.”

Excerpt

CONVERSATION WITH THE STONE WIFE

You don’t get to tell me my arms are useless. The kith
of scales should move you, the dedication
to impoverished architecture. Girlfriend, what you don’t know is
I started gathering cotton grass in mock worship
of your romance with blackbirds. I started before you were born.
Dressed them in kohl, breathed my weathers into them.
You don’t get to tell me the priority of wings. I know.
The cattails whip the marshlands with the discipline
of a schoolmarm. I can tell you in the rain my labor is sexy.
My fat tits darken. I would lay down with anyone
who doesn’t laud the cloacae, the irascible beaks.
That’s ridiculous. All afternoon I grieved the great morning sky
you rode in on, prayed for its nothing change. See
how my English has improved. See how hot I look
descending the stairs, a choker of claws around my neck,
the talons dug into with arsenic. My old life bloats
like a collection of dictionaries abandoned beneath
the bed of some walk-up apartment. Hallelujah,
you’ve yet to get my magic. Already my veil appears silken,
my spiderleg lashes. Leave me my materials, my histrionics.

 

Additional information

Author

Eilbert, Natalie

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