Waking Stone


Poems by Carole Simmons Oles
978-1-55728-825-7 (paper)
October 2006


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From Carole Simmons Oles comes a new modern poetry biography, this one based on the life of American sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830–1908). After an exceptional apprenticeship in Rome, Hosmer opened a studio there where she was associated with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, and the Brownings. Though some of her work survives today, much of it has disappeared.

Oles rediscovers Hosmer’s life in Waking Stone. This is a dialogue, an exploration of what Oles calls their “parallel universes.” In beautiful and affecting lyric and narrative poems, some in Hosmer’s voice, some in her own, Oles bends time and circumstances to reveal the essential kinship between two women artists. Oles keeps readers moving through Hosmer’s story, with its flashes of delight, anger, mischief, and triumph, as well as through Oles’s life and time, speaking imaginatively to young women about cutting themselves with razor blades, and to older women about suffering disfiguring treatments for breast cancer.

Carole Simmons Oles is a professor of English at California State University at Chico. She is the author of a number of books, including Night Watches: Inventions on the Life of Maria Mitchell, Stunts, and Sympathetic Systems. Among her honors are a Poetry Society of America Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and four Prairie Schooner Awards.

“How often is a book of poems simultaneously inspiring, informative, fun, solid as marble, sensuous as flesh, tough-minded and downright beautiful? Waking Stone is all those things. . . . When I started, I couldn’t stop—the force of these poems blew me away.”
—Alicia Ostriker, author of No Heaven

“In this astounding and flawlessly structured book Oles has entered into a passionate dialogue with . . . Hosmer.”
—Richard Jackson, author of Unauthorized Autobiography: New and Selected Poems

“Oles has deftly, clearly, resolutely brought to light the story of this 19th century woman artist.”
—Rosanna Warren, author of Departure: Poems