Stone Talks brings together poems and four talks/essays by noted poet Alyson Hallett on the subject of stones, rocks, somatics and our relationship with our environment. The book invites us to listen again to the world around us - the world of rocks and trees and sky and stars and sea that we participate in and that participates in us. It reawakens a childlike curiosity in us, makes connections that we had forgotten, and gives us permission to experience the world in an embodied and vibrant way that was drummed out of the rest of us long ago. The book starts with an essay on KInship inspired by Donna Haraway's ideas about how we must make relationships of kin with all things, including what she refers to as `critters'.
In it, Alyson explores the twin ideas of embodied reading and embodied walking.
How, exactly, can we embody the ideas in a book? Here, the author "dives into kinship with the decomposed bodies of plankton, plants and animals whose liquidation created that beautiful, black viscous gold we call oil". In the title essay, Stone Talks, Alyson revisits the keynote lecture she gave at the `In Other Tongues' symposium at Dartington.
In it she explores her lived experience of being talked to and guided in her life by stones.
She examines the ideas of obedience and yielding, the body as a wilderness, and unfolds a walked artwork with stones that she undertook soon after her father died. In Haunted Landscapes, Alyson explores the marks and traces of our own and others' lives that inhabit our bodies and experience.
Wandering into quantum physics, she asks questions that "set me afloat on a fathomless sea". Finally, in The Stone Monologues, Alyson embarks on a quest to "understand myself not as a single thing, a single point, but rather a constellation, a layered interruption in time comprising everyone and everything I encounter". Alyson Hallett has received Arts Council awards for her work.
She is a Hawthornden Fellow, works part-time for the Royal Literary Fund and loves collaborating with other artists and scientists. She has a doctorate in poetry with research into geographical intimacy.
In Stone Talks, she shares some of what she is learning from stones.
She talks "from the mud. From the earth. From the place we haunt and are haunted by." The talking is exquisite.