Book Design: Beth C. Ford
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Kentucky poet, naturalist, and folklorist Sarah McCartt-Jackson is the recipient of fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Foundation for Women, among others. Her prizewinning chapbooks include Calf Canyon, Vein of Stone, and Children Born on the Wrong Side of the River.
“For a century and more, it has been our women, hillbilly women, who—despite corporate warfare and starvation, disease, poverty, abuse—have led the nation to believe in and take up the right we have to own our labor, to believe in and fight for the dignity of work. I actually pray, every day I pray, that today’s generation of women will rise to tell our story, write our story, bearing its mythos and universal power for those who will need it next. Then Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s debut landed in my lap. A true poetry that bends into this history with such precise vision and moral, human clarity—not to mention beauty—that I am astonished it is her first book. Stonelight is a triumph.” —Rebecca Gayle Howell
“Every line in this rich and absorbing book I s loaded with unremitting grief. Death is a constant shadow in this rugged land that is itself half composed of shade. The ever-present underworld of the mines registers, at once, as just another darkness and also as the prevailing dark, because those who know and love their land recognize the fact that, for little money, they have been hired to undo it. That makes every shadow on these pages all the more ominous. The people who populate this intense, unfolding book are desperately caught between knowledge and superstition, hope and fear. And yet all around is the reviving solace of the living earth. Only poetry, alive in the body and the mind, can travel such terrain.” —Maurice Manning
The poems in Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s Stonelight are rooted in Kentucky, in the coal mines, the quilting tradition, the family narratives passed on by Ora, a woman who sleeps with a hatchet under her bed to avoid miscarriage, one ‘unafraid of the shadow that climbs up the mountain,’ and her husband, Eli, a coal miner, his ‘voice a bucket rattling with gravel.’ Stonelight weaves the hardboiled realities of life with Kentucky lore, inhabiting the intimate, domestic space just as much as the subterranean mines, and all this layering revolves around the need for remembrance. These lush and often gritty poems speak through a chorus of hardscrabble voices, reminding us that we are inextricably tied to the past, to home, to kin. Stonelight is elegiac, spellbinding, haunting.” —Andrea Jurjević
“Images of explosions or of dynamite being detonated occur throughout this strange and beautiful book and as I read it, I began to think how explosive these poems themselves are, each one an intense, clanging flash of lyric that, taken together and combined with the darkness and silence that surround them, make up a compelling and richly textured narrative of a family, a time, a place, a tragedy. McCartt-Jackson trusts the blast and its attendant light and fire and noise, but she also, very smartly, trusts what goes unseen, unheard, unsaid. Stonelight is dense and earthy, subtle and fresh, felt and true. It’s a wonderful and absolutely authentic first book.” —Davis McCombs
Read two excerpts:
In celebration of the publication of Airlie Prize-winner Stonelight, Airlie Press has commissioned a limited-edition postcard featuring artwork from the book, along with one of Sarah McCartt-Jackson's poems.
$5 for a set of 6 postcards
$10 for a set of 15 postcards