The Chimney Stone


The Chimney Stone

By Rob Winger

Nightwood Editions
5.5 x 8 - 72 pages
Paperback - $17.95
September 2010

In this eagerly anticipated follow-up to his award-winning, critically lauded debut, Rob Winger’s sophomore collection, The Chimney Stone, bends the contemporary lyric into startling new shapes. Concentrating on a splendid mess of headlines, wars, politics, relationships and artistic influences, Winger’s ghazals ask us how to negotiate the complex commitments and chaotic tumult of our dailylives.

Making use of the ghazal’s original address to both a secular lover and a sacred ethics, Winger’s four sections move from examinations of gender in “Iron John” and “Bloody Mary,” to an ironic investigation of common experience in “Idiot Wind,” to a record of both human rights abuses and personal epiphany in “Blind Date.”

In the process, Winger not only engages in dialogue with other poets—John Thompson, Phyllis Webb, Adrienne Rich, Ghalib, and more—but also welcomes other voices, measures, and musical phrases into his couplets. Here, Rimbaud rubs shoulders with Joe Strummer and David Byrne; Dylan exchanges one-liners with Gaston Bachelard; Johnny Cash spars with the Fisk Jubilee Singers; and Gretzky makes a pass to a smooth right winger.

Drifting from razor-carved sternums, to Lhasa runways, to Southeast Asian temples and beaches, to eighteenth-century shipwrecks, bloody tanks, rusty apartheid, blind genocide and burning teddy bears, The Chimney Stone urges us to re-examine not only how we order the contemporary world, but also how we become its citizens or revolutionaries, grandparents or kids, protestors or politicians. Ethically charged, tenderly observed, and masterfully realized, Winger’s poems are a vital addition to the ghazal’s continued evolution.