Hominid Up

Posted on by Sandell Morse


One of the joys of writing is reading the work or your friends. Today, Hominid Up, by Neil Shephard, his sixth book of poems. Neil is a long time friend, and although I hardly see him, we are compatriots, inhabiting the same metaphorical country, meeting the last time at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Neil writes what must be said, each word precise. He writes of New York City streets, of Vermont’s countryside and of Maine’s coast. I’m drawn to each of his landscapes. People inhabit his landscapes, sometimes the poet, sometimes those he observes, and so Neil’s poems are about each of us.

In “Meadow Cottage, Deer Isle, Maine,” the poet remembers the year before when he came to Deer Isle to finish a book. He remembers being alone and writing and watching, and I can feel time nearly suspended as he writes of “the osprey’s gyroscopic motions” and of an eagle that “seemed tethered to its aerie.” This year, he watches nothing; he composes nothing. He picks blueberries with his daughter, goes clamming with his wife. Yet, it is after this year of family, that he writes this poem, telling us, his readers that sometimes even the eagle forgets its solitary nature “to mate in mid-air,/ copulate as they fall….” And on to a dynamite ending I will not reveal.

Not many people read poetry or buy books of poems. But poets have a way of grinding down what is essential and saying it, some more clearly than others. Neil is a poet of gemstone clarity. I love his work. You will, too. He does not even know I am writing this. This is my way of thanking him for these poems. They illuminate my life. Hominid Up.



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