Still, the Sky is an impeccably researched and elegantly designed collection combining poetry exploring and reimagining the dual Bildungsromane of Icarus and Asterion with intriguing installation artwork that enhances the text.
Author Tom Pearson’s volume is a dramatic, book-length poem with a prologue, seven sections, and an epilogue. Its first lines — “My departure instigated his exit” — immediately launch a well-paced journey that oscillates between action and dreamy lyric contemplation. While mythical allusions necessarily permeate this text, readers unfamiliar with Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Greek mythology are still likely to be enticed by Pearson’s use of crisp, clear, free-verse quatrains to both narrative and lyric effect.
For example, the section titled “The Rain Room” begins: “In the rain room, I rise to the sound of horse/ Hooves on terra cotta tiles, the percussive/ Romp of equine angels on red rooftops. Why/ Has he come in this way?” These lines evoke an ancient context with sensory-rich details accessible to contemporary readers. The author deftly employs sound-play, particularly the consonants “r” (“rain,” “room,” “rise,” etc.) and “t” (“terra,” “cotta,” and “tiles”). The music of the lines engages readers, who listen and wonder along with “I.”
A few pages later, the explicit voice of Icarus appears as he muses on his father Daedalus: “My father was afraid to fly, unfathered and/ Leaving vague instruction. What was there but/ Fly to the sun, fall featherless/fatherless/ Into the sea?” Again, context for the original myth is not required to appreciate this speaker’s ruminations on a weighty father-son dynamic: What the parent was afraid to do, the child felt compelled to try. Readers confront a timeless trope of human experience.
Rendered with great aesthetic care, Still, the Sky could be taught in university humanities courses alongside other imaginative retellings and subversions of Greek myth. It’s likely to engage both young, uninitiated readers with its coming-of-age quest-narrative and world-building appeal as well as older, specialized readers with background in Classics, literature, and art history.
Also available as an ebook.