Varying States of Grace (Poetry)

by Ian Stephen | Poetry |
ISBN: 0748660380 Global Overview for this book
Registered by PeaMartian of Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on 10/23/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
6 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Hi all,

This is a fine example of bookcrossing karma... I hope everyone who gets to read this enjoys the same...

After my JE for Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard (, Skyewriter (aka Linda Gillard) messaged me to break the sad news that Calum's poetry doesn't in fact exist, and never will (sniff!). However, she also told me that Calum's poetry is based on that of Ian Stephen, a real-life Scottish poet, and that she had some spare copies of two of his books, which she sent on to me so that I can register, read and release them...

The Ian Stephen books arrived with just in time for a trip to Scotland and the end of Sept/start of Oct, and while I still had Emotional Geology so that I could flick between all three books.

This is all fabulous, and has had me grinning for weeks now :)

So, to share the bookcrossing karma further, I am setting up bookrays for both of the Ian Stephen books (this book and Providence II: The bookrays will begin their journeys together, heading off to LyzzyBee who set up the Emotional Geology bookray and got all this started in the first place, but I don't think that they necessarily need to stay together once they have made the rounds of all the people who want to read both of them...

The bookrays are open, so please PM me with shipping preferences if you want to join...


ETA: Here's the running order for the ray so far (as usual, when you're done with the books just PM the next person on the list and ask for their address)...

ETA again: to add starflash to the running order (who found these bookrings after reading the copy of Emotional Geology referenced above)...

Beebarf <--- (Books are here as of Dec 2007)

Journal Entry 2 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So, what did I actually think of the book? *MILD SPOLIER WARNING*

I did find some of these poems difficult to get to grips with, but again (as with those in Providence II) some of them really caught my attention and gave me very clear images in my head (e.g. Provisions on pages 15, Two Poems for my Mother on page 19, and Ridge above Lake Myvatn on page 39), and others proved to describe very familiar scenes as I do a fair amount of travelling (e.g Station Cafeteria on page 26 and Motorway Stop on page 88. I reckon my favourite section of the book overall is "Provisions"; My favourite individual poem in the book, I think, is "For Calum "tent", Coastguard Officer", which made me laugh out loud in public.

This book is not discussed by Rose and Calum in Emotional Geology, but the links between these poems and those in Emotional Geology can be identified. In particular, I imagine Borderlands on pages 48 - 50, Pic du Midi D'Ossau on page 51 and Going South on page 83 would be familiar and inspirational to Calum. I would also guess that the foundation and inspiration for the poem on pages 115 and 116 of Emotional Geology would be Mooring on page 109 (and on the back cover) of Varying States of Grace.

So, overall, I got more out of the poetry in this book than I did out of that in Providence II, and althought I like the concept of combining poetry and photography, altogether I think I prefer this book.

Altogether a great experience, which I never would have had without bookcrossing...

This book will be posted off to Lyzzybee today along with Varying States of Grace...

Journal Entry 3 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Thursday, October 25, 2007
Received today on the first stage of their bookring. I will check back to see who I'm to post them on to in due course. Should be read fairly soon. Thank you!

Journal Entry 4 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, October 27, 2007
I read this one first because it's the one without the pictures... if that makes sense, saving the best till last. I very much liked the spare, sparse language, and especially those poems descriptive of landscape, whether rural or industrial. Some of the descriptions read like descriptions of the kinds of photos I love - details of bits of machinery, the edges of a tree, etc.

Two quotations that really summed up the collection for me...

From "Undercurrents", a hint at the wry humour lurking beneath many of the pieces:

"But you must have seen my first twitches for
the spiral notepad - or the need itself -
to find the phrases which will organise
the signals a bit. Your question is
whether I can sit and be alert
without making something of it."

I love the duality of that last line - both the idea of having to make something out of every small experience - the frustration of his companion, and the idea of crafting.

From "Circumambulation (Scarp Island)", an example of the spareness of the writing:

"I dare not walk on this sand.
Tide ruts its own sound
between Scarp and Kearstay"

An excellent collection, and I look forward to the other one - with photos!


Giving to Katisha50 when I see her this afternoon, to give to CaterinaAnna when she sees her this evening!

Journal Entry 6 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Thursday, November 15, 2007
Did get passed on as planned, but I've been a bad BCer & not journalled their safe arrival.

Journal Entry 7 by Caterinaanna from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, December 01, 2007
As with any poetry collection, some 'worked' for me and some didn't.

Once again, I was struck by the colour of Ian Stephen's verbal world and reminded of USM's photographs by poems such as Scapa Shore and Sanctuary, possibly my favourites.

I would like to keep these and savour the poems more often, but I've already had beebarf's address for a week, so I shall reluctantly get them on their way at the start of next week.

Journal Entry 8 by beeofgoodcheer from Stowmarket, Suffolk United Kingdom on Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Arrived safely with me yesterday, I'm looking forward to reading these.

Journal Entry 9 by beeofgoodcheer from Stowmarket, Suffolk United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Book has been read, and next participant's address requested. Full review to follow!

Journal Entry 10 by beeofgoodcheer from Stowmarket, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, May 01, 2008
I found these more satisfying than Providence II, I think because they varied so much more, in terms of tone, setting and subject.

There's poetry found even in the most unlikely things - such as slaughtering sheep. Disturbing, yet also distancing at the same time...

Once again, apologies for holding onto these for so long, but they are in the mail today.

Journal Entry 11 by wingCassiopaeiawing from Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, May 03, 2008
Very happy to receive this today in the post.

Journal Entry 12 by wingCassiopaeiawing from Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I found most of this edition rather obscure and hard to appreciate, I think I would need to linger over them longer than I have to really feel them.

Journal Entry 13 by wingCassiopaeiawing at Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Released 10 yrs ago (5/21/2008 UTC) at Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom



Sent to Starflash, in todays post.
KTMC 2008

I have tried contacting birmingham-rose who was next in line, but had no response. I think she will be moved to the end of the list.

Journal Entry 14 by starflash on Monday, May 26, 2008
Collected when I went back to work on Friday


I found Stephens poetry rather inaccessible. It was all very personal to him- names, places etc. And I dont sail either, so there was another gap n my understanding there. I am glad I read the two books though. Thank you for sharing.

Journal Entry 15 by starflash at by mail in sent by post, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, June 07, 2008

Released 10 yrs ago (6/7/2008 UTC) at by mail in sent by post, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Sending home next week

Journal Entry 16 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Saturday, June 28, 2008
This book has arrived safely back with me, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it (and Providence II)...

Thanks to all of you who participated in the ring - I really enjoyed your comments, etc!

I'll try contacting Birmingham-rose again in a couple of weeks to see if she's still interested in reading them...

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