The Stone of Language: Book Orders

The Stone of Language

Anya Achtenberg

Following the troubled course of the last decade, these poems move from the stories of
individual lives to the events that have entered our global consciousness. They explore
the world of work, from circuses to wedding ring factories to classrooms; and the world
of war, from the agonies of Israel/Palestine to the Bosnian war to New York of 9/11. They
examine the need for flight and the recovery of ancestral knowledge. While they rage against injustice, they also search for healing. Above all they are songs of the people’s struggle.

Luis Francia of The Village Voice says:
Achtenberg is a poet of lyrical intensity . . .interested in detail for the wealth of revelation and music it will yield up.

Prior to publication, the manuscript won recognition as a finalist in five competitions:
the Philip Levine Poetry Contest, the Hayden Carruth Award from Copper Canyon Press,
the May Swenson Award from Utah State University Press, Cleveland State University’s
Poetry Center Prize, and the Alice James Books awards.

Published by
West End Press

July 6 x 9 96 pages
paperback 0-9753486-1-2

About Achtenberg’s 2nd book of poetry*, The Stone of Language:

Anya Achtenberg’s visionary workshops on writing for social change have received national acclaim. With this book of poetry, she practices what she preaches–redreaming a just world–in a way that is simply breathtaking.
—Demetria Martinez,
author of Mother Tongue, and Confessions of a Berlitz Tape Chicana: Collected Columns

*Anya’s first book of poetry, I Know What The Small Girl Knew, Holy Cow! Press 1983, is out-of-print, but used copies are available at

Purchasing information for The Stone of Language:

1—Individual purchasers for The Stone of Language:

West End Press
PO Box 27334
Albuquerque, NM 87125

Cost is $12.95, the list price of the book.
No charge for postage if you send a prepaid check to West End Press.
No cash please, no credit cards.

2—Books can be purchased directly from Anya in person at readings, workshops, etc.

See or call 1.800.249.7737

From The Stone of Language

Torturer’s Resignation
Anya Achtenberg

From all of this I am the only one who leaves.
The shadow of blood does not leave, nor the hands,
nor the child turned into a rope, nor the rope into fire,
nor the flame become plague of scattering and landlessness.

What is on the floor remains the stench of concrete,
what is wooden tilts forever into earth’s loneliness,
what flies off is hair, what sings is only
feet burning like drums, what lights the way
is ordinary lampshade.

I am leaving the arc of rage.
I am leaving the covenant of bitter women.
I am leaving my birth into sin and the scalding purifications,
the scream of ceremony, that eats of the fruit
between our legs.

Armies of blind cloth, I’m going. Unmap me. I am leaving
the tunnel of agony that opens to be fed.
I am leaving the arm raised in the field of arms
over the thud of child, of grace, of song.

I leave all of this for a naked dance, for innocence
in my cousin’s tent, for lunch with strangers and the fruit
of grenades blossoming only in the target of dreams.
I walk away like a man or like a woman.
My soldiers are the armies of fruit
in the market crates, spilling, rolling,
lime and mango singing.

Electric night, I leave you.
Animal incision and insect crawl,
green slip of bile and exhausted organs
waiting in the breathless river for one kiss or one note,
one dead mother, one gasping father,
for the probing of the sister of teeth and locked closets,
of blankets of shadow and postcards of blame,
I leave you, hood of nightmare, for breath, for air,
for an entire body.

The first line is borrowed from Cesar Vallejo’s poem, “Paris, October 1936”.

“Torturer’s Resignation” received the 1st prize in poetry from Another Chicago Magazine’s Chicago Literary Awards, 2000

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