Icarus is a new chapbook from Philadelphia poet Israel E. Colón, a self-proclaimed “reluctant poet” and a native to Northeast Philadelphia. Described as “a picture that’s haunting yet dripping with love,” Colón reflects on his past traumas and brings readers along in his journey. Partnering with emerging publishing company Toho Journal, Colón finished Icarus in a year with poems dating back over a decade.
Close to the sun
Colón’s book is autobiographical, as a reflection of past traumas in chronological order, bringing the reader along with him on his journey. “Much of my writing comes from a place of conflicted emotions,” Colón says. “I have little to nothing that I can do with [the emotions] as the damage has already been done, but to write.”
For the reluctant poet, Colón’s introduction to poetry stemmed from a book, written by his cousin, that shaped the idea of what being a man is about. “I was bitten by the bug at a young age,” he says. Because of this, Colón has taken on the identity of “poet” and has never missed an event held by Toho Journal or Green Street Poetry.
Insomnia is a prevalent theme in Icarus. The author described returning to his past for the sake of writing his book as haunting. “I thought I moved past these problems,” he says. “I honestly wish I was strong enough for them not to bother me in the way that they do.”
Getting the point across
Traditional poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration can be found throughout Icarus and other poems by Colón. He expresses this as a way to help make something ugly beautiful, as the writing process has allowed him to separate himself from his work and bleed onto the page. “Say you’re breaking up with someone,” Colón says. “It may have hurt, but if it’s done in such a beautiful way, that almost lessens the hurt from my point of view. Keeping with the rhythmic pattern keeps all of these demons I face from becoming overwhelming.”
Colón writes most of his poems in a single sitting. This makes it easier for the poet to talk about events in his life that shaped who he is today, whether they were from the home invasion described in December 26, 2005, what it was like being the witness in a murder case in Involuntary Wings, or witnessing an attempt at suicide in Leaving September.
The title of the book shares its name with Icarus from Greek mythology. This was inspired by Colón’s recurring dream of flying which he interpreted as a way of trying to escape the life he lived, identifying with the series of events that brought Icarus close to the sun.
“There’s a fear in trying to live a better life, that might lead to my demise, Colón adds. “If I ever felt something was predestined, it’s now with poetry.” For Colón, writing is a necessity and a way to relieve his demons in a cathartic way.
What, When, Where, and Accessibility
Icarus by Israel E. Colón can be found on Amazon and at various local bookstores like Harriett’s Bookshop, Head House Books, and Uncle Bobbie’s. In addition, Colón will be a guest on On the Move with Mike Africa Jr. and be featured in a virtual open mic hosted by Toho Journal and Green Street Poetry on Wednesday, March 31.
Image Description: A black-and-white portrait of Colón, who is bald and wears a full, dark beard and mustache. He's wearing all black and sits against a gray backdrop with his hands folded, fingers interlaced. He's wearing a watch and glasses.