Book Review: Still, the Sky
Reviewed by Joshua Ryan Bligh
A wellspring of carefully-wrought imagery exploring timeless themes through ancient characters
Using a combination of visual artifacts and poetry, Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson seeks to fill in the blank spaces surrounding Icarus and Asterion, two figures of Greek mythology who were previously one-dimensional, more akin to set pieces than sentient beings.
Asterion: bestial and violent prisoner-warden of the labyrinth. Icarus: youthful and laden with a decidedly fatal hubris. But not here, wherein Pearson transforms each of these tragic figures, expressing their profound and sensitive complexities through an exchange of the written word and physical objects.
The artifacts and ephemera displayed throughout the work serve as an ideal counterpoint to the more evanescent quality of the poetry. The objects hold layers of symbolism and hidden meaning, demonstrating as much subtle significance as the poems.
Pearson’s poetry accomplishes a unique etherealness, precariously tethered to the present with a gossamer string, leaving the reader to feel the distance of millennia. The themes and notes that travel along this thread are as relevant today as they were then (or will be in the future): the musings of a developing mind, the myriad expressions of love we can discover, and the inescapable fact of being an embodied subject placed in a physical locale with pervasive social mores either opposed to or in favor of you. To name a few. There is a lot to unpack with these poems.
The diaphanous fabric of these reverie-poems make connecting with the imagery, message, and narrators a bit inconsistent though. It at times can feel like trading a more substantial experience for one of dreamy flight.
Still, I enjoyed the weightlessness of these moments. The experience is like that of a perfectly timed nap (now, I mean this analogy in the most positive way; I love naps), pulling the reader along an unexpected course as ideas move through and around you, some clear while others vanish in puffs of aether. By the end you arise feeling you gained something enveloped in a sense of serenity.
Still, the Sky comes as a unique experience crafted with evident care and sympathy for our tragic Asterion and Icarus, but some readers, even with knowledge of Greek myths, may have trouble following along, with the meaning and power of the poems often feeling obfuscated or in periphery, vanishing before coming fully into focus. Enjoyment is imminent regardless. One can’t help but appreciate the skill and devotion woven into this collection.
Genre: Poetry / Mythology
Print Length: 180 pages
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