David Stones reads from "Infinite Sequels"

David Stones is a semi-retired business executive and CEO. He divides his time between Toronto and Stratford, Ontario volunteering in support of the world renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the town's rich cultural heritage. He is also a writer and a person who stutters. He read from his book of poetry, Infinite Sequels, on Tuesday November 19th at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto.

A man was sitting at a low desk. Concentrating, leaning forward, poised to write. To his right  was a bible and on the left, a half empty bottle of scotch.  Suddenly he wrote a few words, then stopped. Almost, but then another scrunched piece of paper joined those already on the floor. In a searching voice rich with regret, David began:

“I was almost Something, I almost began

I almost got started, changed flesh into man

Almost a poet, stitching words from wine

The dark balladeer in search of a rhyme”

Welcome to the opening lines from David Stones’ first book of poetry, Infinite Sequels. Describing the poems in the collection as those ‘that leaked out of me during 60 years or so,’ his performance for the next hour was vivid, intense, and poignant. Infinite Sequels is poetry about the frailness and severity of life that is deeply and closely observed. Loving someone means being open to pain. ‘Painkiller... I could stare at it all day’.... ‘There must be a narcotic that guards against hurt’. These are lines that have stayed with me.

At the start of the evening and not knowing quite what to expect, I was thinking to myself that poetry is a rather impenetrable artform. That is, until you hear it performed as memorably as it was in David’s show. And that is the point of poetry - it stays with you. But despite pain, despite sadness, ‘poetry is not words on a page to soak up sadness’. There were poems about Toronto robins in January, about life at the University of Toronto in 1971, and about the scatological product of an overfed racoon.

Poetry, like the music that accompanied the performance, has to be performed to be properly heard. ‘Staccato’ was a perfect example. Hearing the short, sharp words and jarring phrases punch the air made you feel their meaning, viscerally, in your stomach. I’d go to a second performance if I could. Just hearing how the words run, where the emphases are, hearing the emotion and where the light and darkness lay, transforms  the words on a page into a living presence.

And that, as David observed, is part of the transformative power of poetry and the spoken word. At one point in the show, he picked up the holy book, describing it as a book that ‘casts its beam into the chaos.’ The same can be said of Infinite Sequels.

Infinite Sequels is available from Indigo, Amazon and good book sellers.

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