2014 Frost Place Chapbook Prize Winner

The Greenhouse

“The poems of The Greenhouse are profound, fundamental works, born of a deep interiority and making their intricate ways, phrase by phrase, toward a design both organic and artful.”

—David Baker

The Greenhouse, Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet’s second collection of poetry, was awarded the 2014 Frost Place Chapbook Prize and published by Bull City Press. The book details the dual desires of new motherhood—the struggle to make peace with both connection and separation, with being a self irrevocably tied to another self. In lines both fluid and broken, delicate and irreverent, these lyrics recount with boundless love the difficulty of finding oneself again as a parent, and the elemental joy of being transformed by the very life that tethers you.

Praise for The Greenhouse:

“Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet’s collection, The Greenhouse, asserted itself from the first reading for its interplay of restlessness and patience, its mapping of an interiority both shared and dearly personal, and for its lyric and maternal primacy. Primacy is the circumstance, yet doubleness is the story of The Greenhouse, a double birth. The triggering narrative of these fabulous poems traces the coming-into-life first months of Stonestreet’s infant son and the elemental onset of “memory without language . . . / no name, no category. Milk. // The present nudging at the shore.” But an ever more engaging, intense tale follows a second birth: the coming-back-to-words of Stonestreet herself, at once “tethered to the tug on the other end” while also struggling to remember and reclaim—even reinvent—her autonomous self: “a good test-taker. Conversationalist. / Raised to please. Born to run.” At first tentative, hesitant, even self-doubting (“almost guaranteed you will find / it boring / (domestic) (female) (too much) (too little, too small)”), the voice tutors itself in how to return to the social world where she was once so proficient and adept. It’s the very nature and identity of the self that has changed in the process of mothering—a process so primal and singular, yet so equally mundane (“Millions / of babies, of mothers, millions more jars // flowing from the conveyor belt”). Throughout this brilliant collection, Stonestreet’s curiosities and honesties are bracing and true, as she chides and nurtures, studies and entreats, meditates, amuses, and sings, even if it’s just “one song when all the rest have fled from memory.” The poems of The Greenhouse are profound, fundamental works, born of a deep interiority and making their intricate ways, phrase by phrase, toward a design both organic and artful.”

—David Baker

Reviews

Praise for Lisa’s Work

Until reading Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet’s The Greenhouse … I didn’t know what a chapbook could do. I’d read plenty of moving chapbooks, sure. But to create, in only twelve poems, an experience as urgent, as real, and as necessary as The Greenhouse is astonishing.”

The Greenhouse is as alive as the title promises. These poems are wildly thoughtful, pensively wild.”

Investigates the joys and complexities of this evolution, this meld and pull, with verve and a calming intelligence.”

Throughout this brilliant collection, Stonestreet’s curiosities and honesties are bracing and true, as she chides and nurtures, studies and entreats, meditates, amuses, and sings, even if it’s just ‘one song when all the rest have fled from memory.”

Stonestreet mixes the playful and the profound, and the result well represents its place in a venerable series.”

Tulips, Water, Ash risks talking about the things we have no words for. Simultaneously incisive and passionate, these poems take a chillingly fresh look at the world and ‘chew it till it bleeds.’ They offer the insights we desperately need.”

It is rare to see a collection, debut or not, that is so impeccably crafted—precise, wonderfully complicated, and rich. This is a book of opportunities: linguistic, syntactic, imagistic. Every bit of detail contributes, in an inevitable way, to the whole.”

The speaker wildly zags from the human scale to the galactic, riffing on anything that could be considered Other… deliver[ing] surprise after surprise. Tulips, Water, Ash is a book that excels at such surprises, striking fresh sparks of meaning from line to line and, sometimes, word to word.”

The rich light in this book—of street fairs, sun through the windshield—might half-blind us if this poet weren’t looking with such close and dark attention. Again and again, memory swims up from childhood, and love disturbs and soothes.”

The voice that guides us through this unknown territory is dependable and a bit confessional, unique, and unstoppable.”

…a poem of vertiginous self-consciousness: its extremity of feeling countervailed by the pressure of silence it makes felt. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins in ‘No worst, there is none’, this poet brings experience to a pitch in language at once pared back and wild with its play of repeating words and sounds.”

Radiant attentiveness, rare and gorgeous as it may be, is among the least of Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet’s gifts. Her real distinction is the uncanny ability to penetrate to the heart of an image: to trace its stern trajectories, to capture and unfold its inborn logic. Vision for Stonestreet involves a rigorous will-to-submit: this is both her method and her perpetual subject, her discipline and her reward. Tulips, Water, Ash is an extraordinary and heartening debut.”