Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Now available from Des Hymnagistes Press:

H. R. Stoneback

172 pp.
Des Hymnagistes Press
ISBN 978-0-9822693-0-5
$20 (plus $2 S&H)

To order, please email
"Postmodern modernist extraordinaire!"
--John R. O. Gery, Director Ezra Pound Center for Literature (Davenport's Version, American Ghost/Americki Duh and numerous other books)

What I love about Stoneback's poetry is that it makes you love poetry. It is often very accomplished poetry, but Stoney's double gift for narrative and clarity encourage you to read it with the relish and abandon you would bring to finely honed prose. At the same time he knows--as Alfred Kazin said to me one afternoon, walking the miracle sands of Pensacola Beach--that all great poetry is atavistic. Stoney's atavisms--from the chthonic to the ludic, from the tellurian to the celestial--mourn for all that's missing in the vast charnel house of modern culture. He's a bard, celebratory and rhythmical, with an unmistakable voice and he gets and begets the numinous nature of poiesis.
--Allen Josephs, University of West Florida,White Wall of Spain: The Mysteries of Andalusian Culture, Ritual and Sacrifice in the Corrida: The Saga of Cesar Rincon, and numerous other books.

H.R. Stoneback's superb new collection of poems speaks to such vital fundamentals as love, hope, loss, redemption and renewal as these things are transfigured through Faith. In these eloquent and deeply personal pieces, Stoneback works with the precision of a virtuoso craftsman to devise new songs with which to speak ancient truths, fomenting a radical new rubric of vision and speech while at the same time retaining the best of oral and written tradition in the English language. Stoneback's landscapes and rivers and people are sacred. So are his words about them.
--Edward J. Renehan Jr., musician, writer (John Burroughs: An American Naturalist, The Kennedy's at War: 1937-1945, Dark Genius of Wallstreet: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons, Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and numerous other books)

H. R. Stoneback's new collection contributes another memorable chapter of story and verse to his earlier works, Cafe Millennium & Other Poems and Singing the Springs. These hymnagiste poems rollick between celebratory song and heartbreaking elegy, between the wild weirdness of the 1960s and the weirder wildness of this new century—and perhaps one of the rarest qualities in contemporary poetry, they are capable of communicating a sense of authentic joy.
In Stoneback's hands, autobiography becomes something universal; the work of mourning is shared, and sweetness is confided. Perhaps the most striking piece in a striking collection is the "found poem" Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, which the poet wrote in Nashville, 1965 about:
how we lived in Hawai'i when we
were twenty-five how we got there what we
did there and how we came the long road home
never much money but always with song
luck and hope and hunger when we were young
After reading this poem, after reading all the poems of Amazing-Grace, we too have traveled with the poet on a long road home. And it is a marvelous ride.
--Alex Andriesse Shakespeare, Boston College

H.R. Stoneback's Amazing-Grace-Wheelchair-Jumpshot-Jesus-Love-Poems contains new (and old) poems that are about victory and precision, overcoming and redemption, love and lonesomeness, family and faith. These poems often draw from hymns, carrying the reader to the good places Stoneback has known. Above all, though, Stoneback instructs, teaching us how to live well and truly in the world.
--William Boyle, University of Mississippi

These poems have an immediacy to them, what Fitzgerald called "romantic readiness," they defy the static claustrophobia of academic poems, they are alive, they breathe with place and history, and they impart these journeys to the reader, the pilgrim. These are lasting poems, they endure, they teach, they carry the reader along traces both common and transcendent, blurring the lines of demarcation because they live the values. As Stoneback writes in "Travel Rites and Writing":
The spirit of place does not drink with tourists . . .
You have to live there,
and once you have, you do not want to write about it,
for all such writing is betrayal, unless it is poetry or fiction.
And we all know how dangerous those countries are.
--Brad McDuffie, Nyack College

Stoneback's new book of poems is a hymnagiste narrative tour de force, moving the reader into a tight complicity of darkness and light, wheeling in amazing grace toward "the still point of the turning world." In "Hear That Train: Elegy Written in a Country Music Churchyard (For Johnny Cash)" and "Victory in Jesus: Meditations on an Old Hymn" Stoneback leads us down that old road of sin, illuminating moments that bind our souls in salvation through old hymns and country songs. In his epic "Hawai'i 1965" sequence and in poems for Sparrow, the reader learns how deep love and song are often the only ways of survival in life's darkest hours. And in the final section "Walking (with Pipes & Drum)," through the exactitude of line and form, after a long uphill wheelchair ramp, Stoneback carries us into the refining fires of renewed hope and faith. Through these poems and their voices, poems and songs that read and sing like prayers, we learn how to live each day
in charity with small things, and how to find our way back after each dark night to that old redemption story.
--Matthew Nickel, University of Louisiana—Lafayette

Recent Response from Hawaii:
H. R. Stoneback is a really down to earth man. He is a down to earth man with a bohemian spirit. I told him I was from Florida. He thought I was a Polynesian because of the lei I was wearing. I got him to autograph my program book and to a photo with him. I wanted to purchase his book of poems titled “Amazing grace wheelchair jump start Jesus poems”. He was a singer in his beatnik days in Waikiki when the locals called it the jungle. He was a great speaker.
--Hugeaux, Artist/Photographer (

***And now available from Codhill Press, H. R. Stoneback's Hurricane Hymn & Other Poems (

Monday, December 22, 2008

Des Hymnagistes in New Orleans

The Maple Leaf Poetry Reading Series
(oldest poetry reading series in the South)

Presents Featured Reader

H. R. Stoneback

author of Hurricane Hymn & Other Poems,

and numerous other volumes

Opening readers
William Boyle & Matthew Nickel

Introduction of H. R. Stoneback by William Boyle and Matthew Nickel

January 18, 2009

3 - 5 pm

The Maple Leaf Bar
***8316 Oak Street***
New Orleans

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Florida English and other updates

Florida English has recently published a special Imagist Issue now available on their website. Much in this volume was presented at the First Imagist Conference held in Brunnenburg Castle, Dorf Tirol, 2007. Several Hymnagistes presented on the imagist poets, and several poems by hymnagistes are included within this great volume.

There have also been recent reports of Hymnagistes in the north country around Lake Placid and throughout the Adirondacks. It seems they have already taken the Olympic Ski Jump, the Bob-Sled Run, and all of SUNY Plattsburg.

New reports coming in daily claim that there will be Hymnagistes at this year's SAMLA conference in Louisville, KY. If you're in town, stop by November 7-9, 2008 (see SAMLA Convetion Website for more information). I hear Des Hymnagistes are taking over the conference and there will be several poetry readings, presentations, and the normal festivities.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Sparrow

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Elizabeth Madox Roberts: Essays of Discovery and Recovery

Elizabeth Madox Roberts: Essays of Discovery and Recovery

Edited by H. R. Stoneback, Nicole Camastra, and Steven Florczyk

"This volume is the second of the two books devoted to Elizabeth Madox Roberts to be published in the same year--annus mirabilis! Before the appearance of these two volumes, more than four decades had elapsed since the last book-length critical study of Roberts was published. In many ways, this book serves as a companion piece to its immediate predecessor, Elizabeth Madox Roberts: Essays of Reassessment and Reclamation (edited by H. R. Stoneback and Steven Florczyk). We will not repeat what was said in the introduction to that volume regarding the history of the Elizabeth Madox Roberts Society, from whose annual conferences most of the essays in the present study emanate. It will suffice here to note that the publication of both these landmark volumes signals the celebration, in 2008, of the tenth anniversary of the Roberts Society." (from the Introduction)

This new book of critical essays on Elizabeth Madox Roberts is available for sale at $20 (includes shipping and handling). Included in this book is new fiction by Roberts (fragments from Sallie May, "The Prophet" and notes On Poetry), and critical essays by H. R. Stoneback, William H. Slavick, Wade Hall, Vicki Barker, William Boyle, Nicole Camastra, Damian Carpenter, Steven Florczyk, Angela Green, Tina Iraca, Emily Kane, Brad McDuffie, Jennings Mace, Gregg Neikirk, Matthew Nickel, Erin Presley, Katy Shores, Nicole Boucher Spottke and Nicole Valentino, James Stamant, John Weatherford, and Gerald Preher.

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy can contact

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Requiescat in Pace
Jane Arden Stoneback

HIGHLAND, NY - Sparrow - Jane Arden Stoneback - singer/songwriter of international reputation, paragon of grit and grace, wit and will, during her long fight with lung cancer and all her life, passed away May 25 at Cumberland County Hospital in Kentucky. Born in Carter County, in the eastern Kentucky hill-country, daughter of Alice and Richard Hillman, she made her home in the Hudson Valley for the past four decades. Before moving to Highland in 1969, she lived in Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Orleans, South Jersey, and Tennessee. She also lived and traveled extensively abroad, especially in France and China. She studied at Vanderbilt University, the University of Paris and Peking University. She taught and tutored English language students and lectured on folksong in France and China. Other work experience included a year in Hawaii as Executive Assistant to the President of one of the largest Pacific Rim firms, three years in Nashville as national troubleshooter for General Electric, and many years in the emergency room admissions department of Benedictine Hospital in Kingston. She was also a writer who published essays, poems, and songs. During a forty-five year singing career as the better half of the duo "Stoney & Sparrow", she achieved national and international renown as a singer through her powerful and nuanced performances of folk, country and gospel songs as well as her own compositions. She made concert tours and television and radio appearances throughout Asia, Europe, and North America under the auspices of the British Council, the Fulbright Program, USIA (the US State Department), and many other cultural organizations and institutions. She performed in Austria, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and other countries, as well in most of the fifty states and throughout the Caribbean. In 1984, she sang all over China and several albums featuring her singing were major hit recordings there - said to be the first million-selling records by an American in China. In 2006 a 2CD album, "Stoney & Sparrow: Songs of Place 1962-2006", was released (recorded live in New Paltz). In 2007, another album, "Overcoming: Live in Alabama, China, and the Hudson Valley" was released, featuring earlier concert performances and dedicated to the Hope Lodge in Nashville, where cancer patients at the Vanderbilt Medical Center reside during treatment. Closer to home, Sparrow was wellknown for her performances in the Hudson Valley, especially at SUNY New Paltz, where she performed annually for many years. The world that she made in her singing was inseparable from her role as gracious host and adoptive mother to the extended family of generations of SUNY New Paltz students that she welcomed to her home, their home. This community, this communion of students and teachers, poets and writers, salutes her as muse: "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."(Proverbs 31:28) She is survived by her husband of forty-six years, H.R.("Stoney" - Distinguished Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz); her son, Rick (CEO of the Cumberland County Hospital in Kentucky) and his wife, Robin; her son, Gregg(Professor of English at Westfield State College in Massachusetts) and his wife, Nancy; and her four grandchildren, Adam and Lee(Westfield, MA) and Rachel and Richard(Marrowbone, KY). Visitation will be held Friday, May 30, 2008, 10-11:30am at the Michael Torsone Memorial Funeral Home, Inc., 38 Main St., Highland, NY. A funeral mass will be held 12:30pm following visitation at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Rev. Peter J. Vianney celebrating the mass. Burial will follow in the Ascension Church Cemetery, West Park, NY. For directions, please visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Illumination & Praise: Poems for Elizabeth Madox Roberts and Kentucky

Des Hymnagistes Press is proud to announce its most recent publication of Illumination & Praise: Poems for Elizabeth Madox Roberts and Kentucky. This volume, edited by Matthew Nickel, contains poets: H. R. Stoneback, Charlie Hughes, Ron Whitehead, Charles Semones, Lynn Behrendt, Ed Butler, William Boyle, Alex Andriesse Shakespeare, Brad McDuffie, James Stamant, Gregg Neikirk, Michael Beilfuss, Damian Carpenter, Steven Florczyk, and Matthew Nickel. This past weekend at Penn's Store outside Gravel Switch, KY, the Elizabeth Madox Roberts Society members included in the book read their poems in dedication to the writer and her native soil of Kentucky. There are still a few copies available for sale (1 book for $12 or 2 books for $20). Please contact for further information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Countries of the Heart for Stoney & Sparrow

Countries of the Heart for Stoney & Sparrow, edited by Matthew Nickel, was published in July 2007 by Mother-River-Flows-Two-Ways Press, a division of Des Hymnagistes Press. The book is a collection of poems in dedication to H. R. and Sparrow Stoneback, and several of the poets included in this volume presented the book and their poems to the Stonebacks on Bastille Day 2007. Poets included are Donald Junkins, Edward J. Renehan Jr., Catherine Aldington, Alex Andriesse, Goretti Vianney-Benca, Brad McDuffie, Edward Butler, Robert Lewis, Damian Carpenter, Jenica Lyons, Eric Forbeaux, Bob Waugh, Dan Kempton, Richard Davison, James Stamant, Allen Josephs, Steve Florczyk, Gregg Neikirk, Matthew Nickel, and William Boyle. If you have not gotten a copy of the book or you would like another copy, please send me an email at Price for 1 book is $12 or 2 books for $20 (prices include shipping).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Thou Lovest Well Remains

Des Hymnagistes Press published a volume of poetry for Ezra Pound and Pound's daughter Mary de Rachewiltz in 2007: What Thou Lovest Well Remains: Poems c/o Brunnenburg Castle, edited by H. R. Stoneback. Poets included in this volume are: Catherine Aldington, Richard Aldington, Lynn Behrendt, William Boyle, Michael Copp, James Finn Cotter, John R. O. Gery, Donald R. Johnson, Donald Junkins, Daniel Kempton, Ian McNiven, Brad McDuffie, Matthew Nickel, Biljana Obradovic, Alex Andriesse Shakespeare, John Patrick Travis, and Emily Mitchell Wallace. There are still copies available for sale at $12 (includes shipping). If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please send an email to

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Welcome to Des Hymnagistes Press. We are a group of poets and we publish books. We will be posting publication information and important notifications on this site. There have been several books published under the Des Hymnagistes name (and other sub-divisions of the company, i.e., Mother-River-Flows-Two-Ways Press), and information will be posted in time regarding how to buy copies of previously available books.

Our newest book is a festschrift edited by Matthew Nickel: Illumination & Praise: Poems for Elizabeth Madox Roberts and Kentucky. We are hoping to have the book available for sale at Kentucky Writers Day this April 20, 2008 at Penn's Store near Gravel Switch, KY. Several contributing poets will be there to read poems. We hope to see you there.