'What Is Otherwise Infinite' by Bianca Stone searches for meaning through poetry In her fourth collection, poet Bianca Stone unites vulnerability and humor to tackle the heavy question of what it means to be alive.

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'What Is Otherwise Infinite' asks for granular honesty in our search for meaning

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Poets are great at posing questions like, what is the meaning of our lives and how should we be spending our time? Those concerns seem fitting for this time of isolation and the great resignation and pandemic fatigue.

BIANCA STONE: I think it's a human condition to search, especially with so much happening in the world right now that is unfamiliar and confusing to us. I think we're trying to figure out, what next?

INSKEEP: Bianca Stone's new book of poems is called "What Is Otherwise Infinite."

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

And even though, she says, it's natural to want to sit with heavy questions, she argues that obsessing over our lives can often work against us.

STONE: It can be kind of a form of masochism, trying so hard to fix yourself and to be this great, ideal self.

MARTINEZ: Consider this excerpt from her poem "Routine."

STONE: (Reading) Some days, I get up to go for a run but instead just sit in spandex and write about the fog. Is the fog lifting or the trees rising? Who cares? Nature transfers her blood into the air. We are her lung cancer, her trans fat, her addiction. Some days, I get up early to write but instead clean - the great lie that I am doing something.

INSKEEP: The poet wants you to ask what you really want out of life.

STONE: That's a really frightening and hard place to be, to be honest with yourself about it. But, you know, the good thing is that once you are, you're free. And there is a kind of infinity to that freedom, where you're not beholden to these societal expectations about how you should be spending your day.

MARTINEZ: So we may never know what's next, but Stone believes that we're made out of many different selves.

STONE: And accepting the different parts of ourselves as one self is an incredible gift.

MARTINEZ: Bianca Stone's newest book, "What Is Otherwise Infinite," is out today.

(SOUNDBITE OF PORTICO QUARTET'S "SPINNER")

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