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Celebrating Sigo

By Harriet Staff

Hey! Ron Silliman applied his admirable analytic faculties to San Francisco poet Cedar Sigo today leading with the sentence “Cedar Sigo is a Frank O’Hara for the 21st century: witty, erudite, serious, with a terrific ear & eye for the minutest details, at home in the world of the arts.” Yes! Sigo’s new City Lights book, Stranger in Town, has received good attention since its publication in August 2010, and Silliman continues to stress the book’s excellence, here contextualizing the poem “Speedway” (excerpted in the post), which Sigo composed for John Wieners:

Again the images of loss here are striking, as well as the countermeasures Sigo brings to bear against the crushing possibility of taking them too seriously. One’s heart is cut out, but it’s only a Christmas tree decoration heart, even if it leaves the speaker’s shirt & coat bloodied, or Sigo capitalizing Impertinence, as though that were what one might take anger at. There is much more anxiety in the tone, but it’s an anxiety on the edge of the comic.

Stranger in Town is a terrific book, cover to cover. I’m sure it’s important that Sigo is Suquamish and was raised on the reservation in Washington before landing miraculously at Naropa, but it’s important in the same way that it’s important that Larry Eigner was disabled or that Larry Eigner was Jewish. Eigner was both of those things, but he was a great poet first, and without qualification. Sigo likewise is a fabulous poet. The poems here, precisely because they deal so much with the poetics of the world as he’s found it, strike me as the writing of a writer who is still maturing. But Sigo shows every evidence of being ready to go forward without hesitation, creating the poetry of the future. This is one of those books that leave you wanting only one thing from the poet–more.

How does he do it? All of Cedar’s revelatory “Craft Work” entries for Harriet here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.