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Nate Pritts on Michael Sikkema

Review of Futuring by Michael Sikkema

BlazeVOX (Buffalo, NY), 2008



Through an evocative & heartwrought poetics of fragmentation, Michael Sikkema is able to write words that are stunningly trusting in their incompleteness.  Again & again, the ideas & perceptions are interrupted, impartial, & still serve to engage us deeply enough to force our hearts into our throats.


Part of this comes from the multivalent possibilities Sikkema torques from the language itself.  Consider the opening line from “Second Calendar from Hazel” – “after the damage isn’t singing.”  We’re asked to imagine simultaneous & accumulating possibilities for this utterance:


1)    That something broken can be lovely (the damage itself is singing) & there will be a post moment we might find ourselves residing in when that loveliness has fled.


2)    That some event (after) might, by its very happening, cause the unsinging of something that should be given voice.


Throughout this book I return to the felt methods of its construction as intrinsically tied to the pure human emotion expressed.  There are constant moments of paced & modulated insight, a mechanics of revelation that acknowledges the slow build of moments as a kind of ecstatic architecture:



            I want something shiny to

            look at me for a second


            then something shinier


                                                (from “Fine Little Hammer”)


Scattered throughout but at the still center of this book are the “Calendar(s) for Hazel.”  By a kind of lyrical accumulation, these poems demonstrate a strong hearted certainty in the possibility & necessity of intimacy but are tempered by a fundamental & implicit questioning of how to accomplish that.  Sikkema’s big lyrical chops & his deft linguistic touch make for poems that are instructive as well as enlightening, arrows aimed at bliss & sent soaring with faith.

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