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Lit Talk

Ordinary Magic by Alison Stone: 3 Reviews

Shawna Caro

Alison Stone is the author of Ordinary Magic, her fifth collection of poems. If you would like to obtain a copy of Ordinary Magic, please contact us at thetinlunchbox@gmail.com and we will send you all the details. Happy reading!


Alison Stone is a poet interested in the ways the past possesses the present. The poems in her collection Ordinary Magic revolve around this question in ways both flippant and serious, amused and pained. One of her main organizing schemes is the Tarot deck; she looks to the archetypal figures of the cards and finds everyday counterparts, sometimes counterpoints.  At times the patterning can become overly obvious, but in her best poems, like “King—Love Song For Lou Reed” or “Queen—Lilith’s Daughter on a Date,” Stone manages to illuminate what is most lasting and inescapable about myth. The most primordial of passions and the stories and images formed from them are eternally alive because they are within us, in the lives we are living. Ordinary Magic is a work that encapsulates this understanding from first poem to last.

Review by Kari Bowles


Ordinary Magic is Alison Stone’s latest collection of 78 poems that draw from the tarot. There are a vast range of topics from the archetypal to the every day. Stone draws from the creative roots of the cards, as they were once used for crafting poetry before they became a tool for fortune telling. It is in the Minor Arcana where Stone really shines writing about love, life, death, and everything in between. Stone allows her words to tell the stories and memories, a tapestry that weaves together the details of lived experience that connects all of us.

Review by Lindsey Bartlett


Review of Ordinary Magic, a collection of poems by Alison Stone

In Ordinary Magic, NY poet Alison Stone’s fifth poetry collection, readers are taken on a recast vision of the hero’s journey as presented through the tarot’s major and minor arcana. From a pagan perspective, the tarot represents individuals and our lives in relationship to archetypes, both grandeur and closer to home. It’s less a matter of divination in the idea of telling the future, and more about telling us what we already know about ourselves but that we might easily overwrite or ignore. This comes out quite strongly in Stone’s poetry that reflects equal messages of hope and tragedy, successes and near-misses.

Where I feel this volume shines is in those poems that show Stone’s own story within the framework, rather than speaking of lofty figures that we know in terms of celebrity that seem to affect the world around us in the aggregate. The love of family and the loss of loved ones are the lynchpins that hold the entire work together even more so than the Joseph Campbell-cum-Rider-Waite pastiche. Personally, I felt like Stone did a great service to this exploration of what it means to be human by including Greek gods within the macro-level of the poems. Prometheus brought fire to humans; Persephone brought cold winter. Besides being a familiar pantheon to most people, the Greek gods also act the most human. Their desires are wanton, and their focuses can be just as easily distracted as our own.

This doesn’t make them any less powerful or relevant, which I believe is speaking more to humanity than to the gods. The tale of the journey in Ordinary Magic begins and ends with saying ‘yes,’ first to an unknown, then to a known that only becomes palatable through the eyes of a small, eager, child.  The poems together do such a beautiful job of showing us that growth and failure are a constant up until death – and that sometimes, the young fools we used to be had the right idea all along.

This is an easy volume of poetry to pick up and read through in one sitting, but there are so many details enmeshed within it that it is worth deeper contemplation on the second or third … or perhaps even fiftieth read. There are so many stories within stories in this volume that it is difficult to point to which one is most important or worthy of the most attention – much like our own lives or, more importantly, the lives of the people we love.

Review by Frances Mihulec