Review of Sower on the Cliffs by Helen Mirkil

Here’s an excerpt of a review I wrote of Helen Mirkil’s new book, Sower on the Cliffs.


Sower on the Cliffs, Helen Mirkil’s book of poems and original sketches, works on the reader like one of those evening conversations over coffee where catching up with a friend has gone on for hours, yet when it’s time to call it a night, you feel like you’ve just gotten started. That’s because Mirkil’s use of language, mostly direct, gives you a sense of a door opening up before you.
The book is divided into 10 sections, each with only two to four poems bound to a theme. Many of them are family focused, some touch on losses, issues of faith and some tender moments with loved ones. Mirkil leads each section with one of her own sketches.

Like the sketches, black ink outlines, shapes and suggestions of shapes, Mirkil’s poems also follow the less-is-more approach, and that approach yields rewards as well as surprises at times. In poems like “The Station” and “Pressing In,” she offers a few details that act like an invitation for the reader to start making discoveries.

Home again. A knocking

At the screen door,

Parkinson’s. Let it in?

Read the rest of the review here at Philadelphia Stories.

You can buy the book here on Amazon.

Marion Boyer’s The Clock of the Long Now

In the Spring 2010 issue of the Spoon River Poetry Review M.B. McLatchey wrote a review of Marion Boyer’s 2009 book The Clock of the Long Now. I have not read the book, and until now was unfamiliar with this poet, but McLatchey’s salesmanship has me hooked. “Through language that is mythic in tenor, Boyer casts us in a mythic universe, at once liberating us from our personal histories and magnifying them… beautifully wrought and deeply human meditation on our obligations to one another and to our pasts.”

Intriguing right?

Check out these lines from her poem “Antarctica”

“Despite the things we rely on

to cover our mistakes—

onions, snow, flames,

there’s no escaping history.

Every chink and crevice

of the world is filled with it.”

I love how such simple things, “onions, snow, flames,” are given as examples of “the things we rely on// to cover our mistakes–”

Boyer is reminding us of the importance of details and the detritus which can at times define our lives. Then the following lines continue with a tactile music—“Every chink and crevice//of the world is filled with it.”  I love that.

The Clock of the Long Now is available on Amazon or directly from Mayapple Press. I’ll be ordering it myself soon.

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