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STILL, THE SKY by Tom Pearson


by Tom Pearson

Pub Date: May 15th, 2022
ISBN: 979-8-4308-9547-1
Publisher: Independently Published

Pearson’s latest collection of poetry explores popular Greek myths and the unexplored spaces between the written word and visual art.

A short excerpt from Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a fitting thematic precipice from which to leap into Pearson’s evocatively described, immersive reimagining of Greek myth—namely Theseus’ pursuit of the Minotaur and the fall of Icarus: “Homesick for homeland, Daedalus despised Crete / And his long exile there, but the sea held him. / ‘Though Minos blocks escape by land or water,’ / Daedalus said, ‘still, the sky is before us, / And that’s the way we’ll go. Minos’ dominion / Does not include the air.’ He turned his thinking / Toward unknown arts, changing the laws of nature.” The many symbols and themes explored within are powerful and work on an almost subliminal level as the reader travels further into the book. The labyrinth, for example, in all of its “winding disorientation,” is an apt metaphor for life—and perception. For some—like the seven young men and seven maidens sacrificed every year—the labyrinth meant a brutal death, but it could also be seen as a sanctuary: “The entrance to the labyrinth was a marvel / Of construction. The middle maze, our playground, / Wrapped around the corners of the palace where / We swept our secrets.” The fall of Icarus, like the Minotaur and the labyrinth, explores several themes: balance, greed, ambition, etc. “Inside a tower of rain’s impressions, seeping / Through stone, drip stalactite instructions and / Plans of escape on waxen wings, feathers / From the birds he loved— / Mineral-rich in remembrance, gathered / In puddles on the floor, only this advice: / A warning not to go too high or low, not to / Touch the sun or sea.”  

Pearson’s writing, filled with rich description and striking imagery, suits the subject: “Moving in an arid desert full of bones, / Sinking in a quenchless ocean, felled to bones, / Calcifying in the ruins of our prison palace, / Your maze built of bones.” Additionally, his subtle use of varied sensory descriptors throughout makes the reading experience mesmeric and enveloping. In the following excerpt, Pearson uses sound and smell brilliantly to deepen the power of the sequence: “Putrid peaches rotting on rain-damp ground, / Relishing the squish of their acrid smell while / Ravens caw to each other across the hills of / The Acropolis.” And shortly thereafter: “A deep-throated resonance of the sonic world / Of cicadas and cocks and seagulls, mingling / Their voices through the late morning, go silent / As we pass by.” Pearson’s meticulous choice of words and his innate sense of narrative rhythm—coupled with his sublime use of multimedia art, like Seed of Minos, which features a scorpion in amber; and Gardener's Choice, in which a half-opened milkweed pod is entrapped in some kind of compartment—make for an unarguably unique experience. The strength of this release, however, is also a potential weakness. While the fluid poetry and stunning visual multimedia pieces may resonate powerfully with some readers, the esoteric nature and deep symbolism of the writing may be lost on others.

The fusion of poetry and art makes this speculative trip through Greek myth a highly memorable experience.