Thursday, November 30, 2006



Under the Wanderer's Star by by Sigman Byrd
(Marsh Hawk Press, East Rockaway, N.Y., 2006)

Sigman Byrd's debut book of poetry was chosen as the 2005 recipient of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry prize. I'm not surprised at that honor, because Byrd's work has the lyrical rhythms of classic poets. Much of it is magical in the finest sense of the word, coupling a child's wide-eyed awe at the mysterious and wonderful with a world-weary sense of outrage at life's injustices.

"The Jack-Tar's Song" is a delightful adventure, a blissful discovery beyond imagination:

Ship of convicts and dreamers,
ship of exiled lovers and cosmographers,
ghost ship of my desire sailing
to the lands of Gog and Magog,
let me go with you, don't spare me
the day, the hour, the precise
moment of your great discovery.

"The Child Astronomer" encourages the seeking adventurer in all of us. This excerpt challenges us to explore the mysteries regardless of outcome:

Don't tell him Galileo went blind
staring at sunspots or swashbuckling
Tycho Brahe had his nose
sliced off dueling over equations.

No, he'll discover on his own one day
how even the noblest quests burn up
to nothing in so much random solar wind….

"Any Second Now" is a chilling, haunting remembrance of one awful moment in September. Any commentary I might make is weak in comparison to the poet's words:

….flattened out from above, anonymous,
               it still matters
what he said, what she said,
               kiss the kids, honey, I love you.
Then the collapse. The watching of it orphans us.
               The complicating arc
of the story, the unbargained-for event curve
               that carried us abandons us,
leaves us behind to imagine – we who are heirs
               to this gruesome traffic –
a knocking where the seventy-third floor was,
               a faint voice in a line-up
of available shots, the black box singed and buried,
               blinking and singing.

Sigman Byrd is a wanderer who heartily believes "in all things / fabulous and inconsolable." He does not want to live an isolated life resembling "…the alcified
numbness of men / encased in their lives like fossils." He shares his hauntings and joys with readers, transmits his message generously in each poem and every thought. If you enjoy thought provoking poetry, this prize winning debut book is well worth reading.


Laurel Johnson is a Retired Registered Nurse and the author of four books. She is Senior Reviewer for Midwest Book Review; Review Editor for New Works Review; Staff Reviewer for Shadow Poetry Quill Quarterly Review and occasional submitting reviewer for The Wandering Hermit Review and Irish News and Entertainment. Her poetry and prose can be found online in various literary e-zines. She lives in Nebraska with her husband of forty years.


Post a Comment

<< Home