Hapax is ancient Greek for “once, once only, once and for all,” and “onceness” pervades this second book of poems by American expatriate poet A. E. Stallings. Opening with the jolt of “Aftershocks,” this book explores what does and does not survive its “gone moment” – childhood (“The Dollhouse”), ancient artifacts (“Implements from the Grave of the Poet”), a marriage’s lost moments of happiness (“Lovejoy Street”). The poems also often compare the ancient world with the modern Greece where Stallings has lived for several years. Her musical lyrics cover a range of subjects from love and family to characters and themes derived from classical Greek sources (“Actaeon” and “Sisyphus”). Employing sonnets, couplets, blank verse, haiku, Sapphics, even a sequence of limericks, Stallings displays a seemingly effortless mastery of form. She makes these diverse forms seem new and relevant as modes for expressing intelligent thought as well as charged emotions and a sense of humor. The unique sensibility and linguistic freshness of her work has already marked her as an important, young poet coming into her own.
“Rhyming poetry is not dead! Most contemporary poets eschew rhyme and form for the more contemplative free verse. However, Stallings bucks the trend, bringing “abab” into the 21st century with poems that range from childhood trips to museums to adult cocktail parties. Stalling, who has lived in Greece for several years, brings the rich legacy of Greek mythology and culture into her verses. A thoroughly delightful and accessible entry into neo-traditional poetry.” – Angela Hatton