Skip to main content

Featured Poet: Jon Stone

Eyewear is very glad to welcome young British poet Jon Stone (pictured) to these pages this World Cup Friday here in England, where the big game draws near. Stone was born in Derby and now lives in Whitechapel, working in London as a court editor.

He is co-creator of hand-built lit journal Fuselit, which he has produced with Kirsten Irving since 2005, and has recently started Sidekick Books, an imprint for themed multi-poet anthologies. He was highly commended in the National Poetry Competition 2009 and his debut pamphlet, Scarecrows, was released by HappenStance earlier this year.

Luke Kennard describes it thus: “Angry, beautiful poems which access parts of your mind you didn’t know you had … It’s hard to capture the sense of joy I get from reading this collection.”

Jon maintains the site, home of Sidekick Books and its capricious 'editor-in-chief', Dr Fulminare.

Having clashed light verbal swords with Stone in the past online, I have grown increasingly impressed with his mind, imagination and style. His pamphlet, Scarecrows, has several hair-risingly smart and unusual poems in it, and he reads his work well, too. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes one of the leading lights of his generation - a generation that is bewilderingly full of talented poets of great promise. The poem below (which needs to be reformatted by me soon to get rid of the woeful double spacing between lines - ah html!) shows his ability to yoke together very new cultural references with the classical, in surprising, funny, and sometimes shocking ways.

Caligula as a Character in Final Fantasy

The wretched bastards haven’t turned up yet!
And all the food gone off. The billionth time,
him slouching in his throne, no TV set
to mitigate the castle’s charmless gloom.
Just the checklist, which he checks: “Um, um,
yes.” He ticks the ticks that mark more ticks.
Mystic items? Dozens. Weapons? Stacks.

He’s got the golden armour, head to toe
– or  rather, Burgonet to Sabaton –
and gold enough (it’s been field-tested) to
smite the unsheathed eyes of anyone,
holy or unholy, with a shorn-
off glint of sun, unless they’ve goggles on.
And then there’s this, which he has dubbed ‘Ms Joan’:

a polearm with a mecha-morphic head.
A swizzle of the quillons and a glaive
becomes, with much crunching of gears, a hide-
skinning sv√§rdstav, or, if you’ve the nerve,
a straight blade for that close-but-long-range shave.
And since the thing’s appropriately warlike
it doesn’t matter that it’s kind of phallic.

He’s got the look, the pantheon of hair
(and hence won’t often wear the Burgonet),
a bloody neckerchief, a cape, a scar.
He’s got the motive: must avenge the lot.
Father, mother, sister for a start.
Then brother, other brother, step-dad, wife,
baby daughter – all the flags of grief.

He’s picked out his romantic interest:
the little summoner with snowdrop flesh,
lightly armed and only lightly trussed
in – what, a star-embroidered shift, a sash? –
she could be jingled free from in a flash
of breath. He wants his long jaw prickled by
that shaved spot just before each beam of thigh.

Thanks to all that ‘French art’ from the East
he knows what follows is unduly gooey.
Never mind though. Once they’re done and dressed
he’ll cast a spell to clean them. Then he’ll play her
theme song on his lute and she’ll say, “Whoa.”
But note: though he can strum a bristling chord,
his class is ‘knight’. He’s not some spoony bard.

They’ll come, of course. They’ve got to. It is written
in the book or something. He’s their man.
Deeply wronged/impassioned/wounded/smitten,
all the omens purring: “It’s your turn!”
All the stones that weigh your carcass down.
The candles bite. The banquet table rots.
He waits. And waits. And waits. And waits. And waits.

poem by Jon Stone


chuck.godwin said…
I love your blog. I always learn something. Today I learned about Jon Stone, I and thank you for the post and agree with you about "one of the leading lights" and all that.
thanks again.
Poetry Pleases! said…
Dear Todd

I enjoyed the line 'He wants his long jaw prickled by /that shaved spot just before each beam of thigh' even though I am still far too young to fully comprehend the reference.

Best wishes from Simon

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.