Review of Laura Shovan’s “Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone”

It has been a pleasure reading Laura Shovan’s collection of poems titled “Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone”. One of the many strengths in Shovan’s work is her powerful imagery. In her poem “In Early Spring” she captures what might be called the meditative beauty of children’s winter coats “slung over the playground fence.” In “Wooly Bully” Shovan tenderly describes a family dancing and playing together inside on a snowy evening while a solitary animal outside their window longs for comfort. In “An Absolute Vista” the poet again uses snow as an iconic image that bonds father and son. It is understatement to say Shovan paints with words, for she achieves in blending image and narrative in such a way as to leave the reader edified by and transported into the world of the poem.

Another talent of Shovan’s is her ability to convert the ordinary to the sublime. To see the world for what and how it is then transfigure that truth into a more universal truth that washes over the reader like a cleansing rain. In “Peach Picking” a feisty duck pecks at the narrator’s son while in an orchard. This brief moment turns into a testament of the mother’s devotion to her son. The last two stanzas capture this sentiment:

At home, my son won’t eat
the fruit until I scrape away
the ridged insides, that empty maze,
and revise his ruined day.

He wants his peaches smooth,
so I eat the hearts myself
and tell him this is where
the fruit is sweetest.

In the prose poem “Aida” the narrator realizes that her life has changed dramatically since her recent marriage and that she no longer enjoys the same interactions as her friend, with whom she is watching the opera, Aida. The seamless transition from opera house to her friend’s house and the subsequent revelation that life has changed is masterful.

All readers will be transformed by this deft collection of poems. Each piece resonates with a yearning to understand and appreciate the world as it is and as it was, to recognize the points of origin for what will become the struggles and epiphanies of life.
You may visit Laura Shovan’s blog – Author Amok – by using the link from this site.

About Til Turner

Til is a writer, artist, and musician living in the Shenandoah Valley. He is an associate professor in the Languages and Literature Division at Northern Virginia Community College and is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Art with an MFA in Creative Writing. Til has published poems online, has written a teacher's handbook on ESL writing, and he has recently completed his second novel for young readers. Please feel free to visit his instructional website at
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2 Responses to Review of Laura Shovan’s “Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone”

  1. Franklyn Dickson says:

    What a great review! Almost as good as reading the book.


  2. Til Turner says:

    Thanks for reading Franklyn. Laura’s collection is very special. Wish you all the best.


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