Still, the Sky

Poetry - General
180 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2023
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Author Biography

Tom Pearson is an award-winning multimedia artist: a poet, choreographer, performance and visual artist, director, and filmmaker. He has received critical recognition for his original works for theater, including: the long-running immersive theater hits Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise; the site-specific Ikaros; the experimental short film, The Night Garden; and his books of poetry The Sandpiper’s Spell and Still, the Sky. He is a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based performance company Third Rail Projects and the director and curator for the Global Performance Studio, a program for cultural listening and exchange. More at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson is his latest collection of poetry that delves into popular mythological classics, notably the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur. In the poet’s own words, he has endeavored to complicate the otherwise rigid and often minimal representations of the Minotaur and Icarus, which are often simply rendered either as a monster or a child of hubris. This results in compelling figurative representations, an explosion of social, artistic, emotional, and intellectual expressions that carve their meaning in a fusion of written and visual art. It gives clearer meaning to age-old characters. In Fragments of Icarus, for example, Icarus’s tragedy is deemed not as a remembrance of failure, but rather as an autobiography of imprisonment.

This collection is highly accessible in terms of readability when compared to other poetry inspired by the classics. The anthology may not exactly be easy reading for some, but Tom Pearson conveys through his creations the impression that he is a poet with a strong, intelligent, and lyrical voice. From a critical standpoint, this is not the type of poetry that you can easily read and digest its metaphorical undertones in one sitting. Pearson creates a world that bridges age-old classics and his contemporary ideas. His striking imagery aside, Pearson’s poetry is best brought to life when deconstructed one poem at a time. The fluidity of his verses makes each of his poems a joy to read. Still, the Sky is highly recommended for lovers of both classical and contemporary verse.

Sarah Stuart

Still, the Sky is divided into seven sections, plus a prologue and an epilogue. The association with Greek mythology is powerful – its ancient tales, descriptions of places, and feelings. “Oracle” subtly uses a change of tense, as does “Melody” that falls before one of the glorious selection of artifacts and art promised by “Poems, Artifacts, Ecofacts, & Art.” There is evidence of the influence of other writers, intriguingly, as diverse as Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Alfred Noyes. All the poems are freestyle quatrains, a technique that lends itself perfectly to poems of varying lengths. “The Minoan” comprises eleven stanzas, but many end with a phrase that leads directly into the next – almost a part of it. Tom Pearson has created much more than a poetry book with Still, the Sky.

I was drawn to read Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson’s use of Greek mythology, and I wasn’t disappointed. One of the first poems features Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who disobeyed his father and flew too close to the sun. “Fragments of Icarus” is the most in-depth explanation of the myth I’ve found. All readers of this captivating collection will choose their own favorites, but mine are “Rite of Spring”, “Tributary” – a very different take on Venice, a city I know and love – and “The Stiltwalker’s House”, which is such a contrast to “The Raincarver’s Palace” that precedes it. The clusters of fabulous illustrations won my heart completely. Still, the Sky is a book I recommend to art and poetry lovers alike with the certainty that any who have yet to venture into the realms of mythology will be enraptured.

Manik Chaturmutha

Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson is a collection of mythological poetry and art combining the famous Greek tales of Icarus and the Minotaur. This striking collection of dramatic verse examines and humanizes Daedalus, the Greek mythological inventor who was the designer and builder of his son Icarus's wings and the labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur. The author depicts Icarus's high-flying escape from Minos, the king of Crete's prison. Traditionally it's a warning to those who would fly too close to the sun. Instead, the author makes it a tale of neglect by the one Icarus admired the most. The author then portrays the Minotaur, a resident of the labyrinth, who is half-man/half-bull trapped by Daedalus's genius. It was the offspring of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a snow-white bull sent to Minos by the god Poseidon for sacrifice. The Minotaur brought great shame to the kingdom of Crete and its king, Minos, by questioning his queen's loyalty to him and thus was locked inside the labyrinth. Finally, in vivid verse, driven by yearning and explicit language, Pearson imagines a shared childhood for the two on the island of Crete, growing up to meet their tragic fates. The resulting narrative becomes a maze of fragmented memories, confessions, and tributes.

The poetry collection creates a shared view of coming-of-age tales through the association of artifacts, ecofacts, written fragments, and ephemera. In the poems, Tom Pearson explores the youth, loneliness, and understanding of who Icarus and Minotaur are and how they thank the darkness for its cloak under which they share silent awe and togetherness. In the author's description, these figures maintain their sense of ancient mystery while still leading a rich, moving life. Their lives are sometimes presented in literal terms, inviting readers to connect to the myths that most retellings don't dig into deeply. Still, the Sky is beautifully written, portraying the personality developments of the characters as they learn to fight for themselves, a well-put-together and profoundly original piece of art. In addition, the book simplifies the Greek legends and mythological tales for an easy read. I would recommend this collection because of the author's ability and desire to focus on mythology through art and poetry, a wondrous way to retell and explore the stories anew.

Miche Arendse

Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson is a collection of poetry that takes inspiration from the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur. The collection features a multitude of poems that artfully touch on the mythology from which the tale originates while delving into various themes. Images of art and lines from the original works are littered throughout, lending to the theme and adding to the collection.

Still, the Sky by Tom Pearson is a thought-provoking and artfully written collection of poems. Although I do suggest the reader have some knowledge of mythology before reading this collection, it can very easily be enjoyed on its own. The collection itself is also filled with works of art relating to the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur as well as other figures from mythology. This really adds to the reading experience and the visuals help to create an atmosphere and imagery within the reader's mind throughout the book.

I found the poems to be very beautifully written and one of the poems I like in particular is ‘Tryst’. The first line in the poem felt so powerful and seemed to be filled with so much meaning both in and out of the context of the book. It is for this reason that I enjoyed reading through these poems. I think any fan of mythology would enjoy reading a collection such as this. It is something different and unlike anything I’ve come across before. I think Still, the Sky is definitely worth a read.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Life is full of all kinds of experiences, some good, some not so good. The span of one human life follows a pre-determined pattern of arrival, growing through dreams and contemplative innocence, a wide range of experiences, trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, hope and despair, successes and failure, love and loss, and so much more, until, in the end, all that is left is the departure, leaving behind all that was. Greek mythology expounds on the prophetic and complex meanings of life. Combining the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur, through correspondence and profound sharing of thoughts and dreams, a complex story unravels that defines what it really means to be alive, what it means to evolve within ourselves, a coming-of-age analogy.

Tom Pearson explores the endless possibilities in his poetic rendition of the Greek myths surrounding Icarus and the Minotaur, in Still, the Sky. Combining poetry and visual art, the author/poet/artist creates a mirage of experiences, emotions, memoirs and so much more. He begins with an excerpt from Ovid, that explains the origin of the book’s title. Very clever. What particularly grabbed my attention was his powerful use of language. I particularly liked: “The metronomic distance between arrival/ And departure.” In this case, metronomic suggests the span of a lifetime, or a fragment thereof, from life’s beginnings to its end. And the sky is still stretched out before us, between the arrival and the departure of our time. I also appreciated the analogies made to cataloging – organizing thoughts, word patterns, poetic expressions, fragments of history, and memoirs, all categorized like (and in) the old wooden library catalog card files/cabinet (illustrations used to emphasize this point, probably due to the fact that many people in this generation have no idea what a library catalog card file/cabinet/ really looks like). This is a complex collection of poetry, one that requires multiple readings to fully digest and appreciate, but it’s well worth the time. Art and poetry have merged beautifully in this newly fabricated classic Greek legend.