In her fourth collection, Like, A.E. Stallings, an American poet, classicist, and translator who lives in Greece, demonstrates facility with poetic forms of all types. Like includes examples of the villanelle, the epigram, the sestina, ottava rima, and, of course, the sonnet, of which there are several, some taking more liberties than others ... Stallings may be so immersed in form that her thoughts arrive already dressed in it—or maybe they arrive formless, but she so enjoys the game of arranging those thoughts into patterns of meter and rhyme that almost any occasion will do. She moves freely between the mythic and the quotidian, between epic and modest scales.
A.E. Stallings,...you may not appreciate everything she writes, but there is no doubt that you are reading serious verse, and that she is both inventive and adept. She is also witty and erudite. She takes on a wide range of subjects, from toys to crows to Greek mythology (she has written translations and is a classics scholar) ... despite its occasional confusions, Like is a book I will return to — to re-experience Stallings’ esprit, intelligence, and word-smithing.
To understand what it means to be a woman in 2018 is to undertake what is still difficult and weighty. To be a woman is to defiantly carve out one’s own space in the archetypal cycle of maiden, mother, and crone. A. E. Stallings, in her latest poetry collection, Like, does just that, showing the many forms of womanhood ... Womanhood is fluid and complex; when we fixate on outward signs of age, signs that eliminate the complexity of a woman’s experience, we internalize them. Stallings’ Like bears witness to the inner wisdom accessible to women in middle age.
Like...presents a diverse quiver of poems — arranged in alphabetical order — polished and sharpened by her typically innovative use of traditional verse forms, poised vocabulary, and a playful dexterous teasing-out of simile and metaphor.
Stallings is widely admired for her formal agility and classical expertise ... In Like, her fourth book of poems, we get the rhyming wit one expects from Stallings, although in the best poems here that wit is attractively darkened by experience in a place that is, to take Stallings slightly out of context, 'Deep in the woods where things escape their names.'”
Reading A.E. Stallings’ new book of poetry, Like... my first impression was a furious delight at the way she invigorates the old forms and makes them sing. No one else I know can breathe such life into rhyme, can elevate the mundane to the mythic, the prosaic to the transcendent. The diction is often deliciously at odds with the form—contemporary slang set off against the myth of Pandora, for example ... This book is rich with form: villanelles, sonnets, syllabics, terza rima, and no one could accuse Stallings of writing without an ear for meter, assonance, and rhyme, even when the form isn’t standard. But what makes Like so thoroughly appealing is the mix of the contemporary into the form ... Though not every poem is successful, even those that don’t work as well are apt to have a ravishing phrase or two. It’s invigorating to read a poet who can make form new, unique, and alive.