Sunday, March 8, 2015


New from 
Des Hymnagistes Press:

The Leek Soup Songbook 
by Matthew Nickel

The Leek Soup Songbook
Matthew Nickel
Des Hymnagistes Press, 2015

To order please contact

Praise for The Leek Soup Songbook

The true poet, like the good gardener, must, as Matthew Nickel writes, “know the names of things.” These poems are alive with them, especially what grows in gardens: garlic, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and of course life-giving, death-defying leeks. And every name has a story, told with wit, intelligence, and often—oh so rare, welcome, and difficult!—humor. Nickel, a careful, reverent, joyful gardener of words, shows us how to “stay attentive to the way things grow.”

—Jane Eblen Keller, writer, author of Adirondack Wilderness: A Story of Man and Nature & numerous other works

The Leek Soup Songbook teaches us how to cherish and celebrate moments of communion. An abundance of sensual particulars create poems that glow, shift and blaze with a passion for being. With a sense of connection to all who have come before, to the land they have tilled, Nickel tries to “relive the death of every living thing.” Each poem of memory is underpinned with tenderness and seeks a grace that approaches the sacramental. The Leek Soup Songbook not only nourishes the body with leeks and garlic, but also feeds the soul by showing how to stay centered, how to rise. Like the taste of a savory soup, music and wisdom in this shimmering collection of poems linger first in the ear but finally find their home in the heart.

—Vivian Shipley, poet, Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor, author of All of Your Messages Have Been Erased, Hardboot, & numerous other works

Matthew Nickel’s Leek Soup Songbook is a splendid first volume of poems from an already much published poet and editor. The best songbooks are composed of songs and stories, cantos and canticles, and Nickel’s superbly crafted collection of cantos and tales of seed-time and harvest, love and loss, tragedy and joy, has something for every reader—autochthon or anachthon, gardener or foodie, lovers of earth or well-made poetry. Leeks have been fabled for millennia as aids to the singing voice and here the poet sings wisely and well of place and displacement, of d├ępaysement and renewal through relocation. With wit and humor, formal equipoise and reinvested echoes of many writers, the poet gives us authentic songs and recipes, hymns and prayers to reclaim the radical innocence of the soul. Nickel’s suffused sense of place and, more importantly, the way he encounters the Deus Loci, the sublime Spirit of Place, invites us all to sing along with him.

—H. R. Stoneback, poet, scholar, singer-songwriter, Distinguished Professor The State University of New York, author of Voices of Women Singing, The Stoney & Sparrow Songbook & numerous other works

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Athletes Prefer Cheerleaders

Why Athletes Prefer Cheerleaders

H. R. Stoneback

Praise for Why Athletes Prefer Cheerleaders:

"H. R. Stoneback's newest collection, Why Athletes Prefer Cheerleaders, is a singular experience. Every one of these poems epitomizes Pound's old modernist maxim--that poetry should be at least as well written as prose. 
     Drawn together from over fifty years of writing, the book is not only a great gathering of poems about sport; it's a deep sampling of Stoneback's voice. Basketball, baseball, zellball, swimming, diving, walking, fishing, boules--sure, you will find all these sports (and more) invoked. But there's something else going on here too:
            Down the great winds at work over the roofs of the land
            Down the singing maze of the horror of living
            Down the wringing wrists of the honor of living
            Down the winding abyss... ("Fast Break")
     These are poems rapt by the mysteries of courtside chants and yellowing scorecards, the glories of place and travel. From "In Those Same Sad Old Churches in Camden" and "Marrowbone Creek: Sunday Noon" (written in the early 1960s) to the strange twenty-first-century country of Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti, you will hear one man's voice telling the holy and broken story of what it has meant to live in the body, in place, in time. There is nothing like it."
--Alex Shakespeare, poet and scholar, Skidmore College

"Stoneback’s sport poems are earth poems, land art, tracing the way flesh moves in the world, the way the soul makes a fast break down court, across the map and over the abyss into moments of grace and glory."
 --Matthew Nickel, poet and scholar, author of Hemingway’s Dark Night, Misericordia University 

If you are interested in ordering a copy a Why Athletes Prefer Cheerleaders, please contact 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Voices from Venice

Voices from Venice

H. R. Stoneback

New from Des Hymnagistes Press:

Signed limited edition of poems by H. R. Stoneback, bilingual edition, with facing page translations by six Italian writers and translators (Rosella Mamoli Zorzi, A. DeMarchi, Elisabetta Mezzani, Virginia Pignagnoli, Sofia Ricotilli, and C. Tinnelli). To inquire regarding limited availability, please email Des Hymnagistes Press at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Save the P.O.etry

Save the P.O.etry—

A National Crusade to save the Post Office through poetry. As everyone knows from recent headlines in the news, the Post Office is in serious trouble, and many Post Offices are threatened with closure or radical cutbacks in hours and service. The Post Office has long been a center of the sense of place and community in American towns and villages. One of the primary factors in the current Post Office crisis is identified as the drastic decline in the use of First Class Mail due to the overwhelming use of e-mail.
         What you can do to help save the P.O.—1) send at least ten people a copy of a poem through the real mail, using actual stamps purchased at an actual Post Office; 2) ask at least ten people to snail-mail a poem to at least ten other people. Act now to save the P.O.—do the math: if you send 10 copies of your favorite poem (or maybe one you’ve written to help save the P.O.) and all the people you send the poem to also do the same, the numbers spiral, and soon through many individual purchases of less than $5 worth of stamps, millions of dollars will pour into the P.O. treasury.

“Poetry makes nothing happen.”—W. H. Auden

          But another poet has written:

“Poetry can make things happen.”—H. R. Stoneback

          We encourage teachers at all levels to invite the participation of their students in this campaign. Post this announcement in libraries. Visit a Post Office, buy some stamps, and mail a poem and a copy of this information sheet to 10 (or 50!) people.
          This nationwide crusade to save the Post Office through mailing poems is based in New Paltz, New York. The campaign will receive national attention at the American Literature Association Conference in New Orleans in October 2012 and at the SAMLA Convention in Durham, NC in November 2012.
          If you would like to report on your role in the SAVE the P.O.etry Crusade, you may e-mail us at: or visit us at

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stoneback (and other hymnagistes) in Paris

165 boulevard du Montparnasse
Paris 6e

H. R. Stoneback, author (or editor) of 30 books, will read from his recent volumes  VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING and HEMINGWAY'S PARIS: OUR PARIS? at the Swan Bar on Thursday June 7, 2012 @ 9:30 pm. The event begins with readings by the opening poets Jessica Conti and Matthew Nickel before the featured performance—Stoneback will read from 10:00-11:00.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kentucky: Poets of Place

Kentucky: Poets of Place, a new anthology published by The Elizabeth Madox Roberts Society, edited by Matthew Nickel, and including poems by famous Kentucky writers like Wendell Berry, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Robert Penn Warren, H. R. Stoneback, and others (Dave Smith, Matthew Haughton, Ricardo Nazario y Colon, Ron Smith, Vivian Shipley, Jessica Conti, Gregg Neikirk, Shawn Rubenfeld, Chris Paolini, Chris Lawrence, Matthew Nickel, etc.), will be premiered during Kentucky Writers Day at Penn's Store in Gravel Switch, KY, Sunday April 22, between 3-4 pm. 
 If you would like to purchase Kentucky: Poets of Place, please send an email to

Thursday, September 29, 2011

From Codhill Press, H. R. Stoneback's VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING

Des Hymnagistes poet H. R. Stoneback has recently published VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING (Codhill Press). Please visit their website for more information or to order, please visit


--"VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING is a funny, tragic, wonderful book . . . Stoneback writes always with good humor and great passion--about Paris, about love, about grief and joy, about the gains and losses of more than half a century gone."
Alex Andriesse Shakespeare, writer, Boston College

--"A virtuosic synthesis of disparate forms and haunting formulations, VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING is 'life-writing' of a wholly new and overwhelming kind, 'written' in the fullest sense and born of a life lived with passionate intensity."
William Bedford Clark, poet-critic, Texas A&M University

--"H. R. Stoneback's VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING . . . [is] an epic account of roots and sources, and it's close to the bone, intimate beyond words, stirring. Love is at the center of this book: romantic love, love of music, and love as a driving (and saving) force."
William Boyle, writer, University of Mississippi

--"There are only a few voices I can listen to and feel the way I ought to feel in church. H. R. Stoneback's VOICES OF WOMEN SINGING captures some of those voices . . . These are sacred songs; these are eternal poems. Listen slowly with infinite love and compassion."
Matthew Nickel, poet-editor, University of Louisiana

And, from the back cover of VOICES, among a host of laudatory comments from leading writers about Stoneback's recent volumes of poetry, a few excerpts:

--"[Stoneback's CAFE MILLENNIUM] performs an act of verbal hypnosis on its reader."
Billy Collins, Poet Laureate

--"These poems [SINGING THE SPRINGS] spring and sing right out of the earth . . .I hug these songs to my heart."
Catherine Aldington, French poet-translator, Imagist

--"The poem [HOMAGE: A LETTER TO ROBERT PENN WARREN] is a delight, a great read, a rumble of energy all the way through . . . the rhythmic roll and strut."

Dave Smith, poet, editor THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, Coleman Professor of Poetry, Johns Hopkins

--"What I love about Stoneback's poetry is that it makes you love poetry . . . He's a bard, celebratory and rhythmical, with an unmistakable voice and he gets and begets the numinous nature of poiesis."
Allen Josephs, writer, University of West Florida

--[Stoneback is a] Postmodern modernist extraordinaire!"
John R. O. Gery, poet, Director Ezra Pound Center for Literature


--"Stoneback's lyrical prose takes the reader inside the soul of Hemingway's Paris to reveal tantalizing secrets."
A.E. Hotchner, writer, Hemingway colleague, author of the classic PAPA HEMINGWAY

--"Stoneback's evocation of Hemingway's Paris is as close as I have come to reliving those Paris days in the company of Ernest Hemingway."
Valerie Hemingway, writer