Overview

MacArthur fellow Linda Bierds probes the borders of science and faith in a volume that takes this prizewinning poet to a new level of achievement. 

The ghost of the good monk Gregor Mendel haunts these poems as they trundle through the centuries, swaying from wonder to foreboding and resting most often on the fault line of science, where human achievement brings both ...
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First Hand

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Overview

MacArthur fellow Linda Bierds probes the borders of science and faith in a volume that takes this prizewinning poet to a new level of achievement. 

The ghost of the good monk Gregor Mendel haunts these poems as they trundle through the centuries, swaying from wonder to foreboding and resting most often on the fault line of science, where human achievement brings both praise and disquietude. 

These thirty linked poems display Linda Bierds at her best: strong, visceral, playful, infused with wonder and color, they both amaze and delight. Bierds's imagery has always been powerful, but here, the subtlety of its permutations throughout the volume is nothing short of breathtaking. Her treatment of substance and insubstantiality, of the material world and "the hummocks of naught"-the gaps filled perhaps by faith, perhaps by scientific progress-adds depth of meaning to the text, and her rich language sounds in the mind's ear to startling effect. 

First Hand proves yet again that Linda Bierds is "a poet of magnitude" (Harold Brodkey). It is a book of wonders, a wondrous book
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bierds won national recognition and a 1998 MacArthur "genius" grant for elaborate yet accessible poems about technology and natural history; her compact seventh collection offers yet more supple work in that vein. A prose prologue and a set of short-lined poems named for liturgical hours ("Matins," "Vespers," etc.) introduce Gregor Mendel, the Moravian monk whose studies of peas laid the groundwork for modern genetics, and who surfaces throughout. Between moving depictions of Mendel's "grace and patience" come poems devoted to other sciences and other scientists: "the young Isaac Newton," the kite-flying Ben Franklin, Marie Curie, James Clerk Maxwell and the Scottish biologist who cloned Dolly the lamb. Many of these investigators, Bierds (The Seconds) suggests, seek not only the hidden link between mind and matter, or the secret of their identity: Franklin, for one, hopes "to be, at once,/ all body, all soul. That is the key." An eight-sonnet sequence closes the book by juxtaposing the monk's botanical practice with the poet's own experience of microscopy at the University of Washington-Seattle (where she teaches): all the poems find language for deep wonder at the mathematical and geometric patterns that undergird the visible world. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Gregor Mendel, Marie Curie, and Ben Franklin as the subject of poetry? In her seventh collection, MacArthur "genius" Bierds makes it work marvelously, using these and other scientific figures to convey the wonders of nature in arresting and carefully observed verse. (LJ 4/1/05) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440627576
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/7/2004
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • File size: 108 KB

Table of Contents

Time and space 3
Counting : Gregor Mendel in the prelacy 5
Elegance 7
Matins : Gregor Mendel and the bees 10
The trinity years 11
Prodigy 14
Thinking of red 16
Gregor Mendel in the garden 19
Percussion 21
Spillikins : Gregor Mendel at the table 25
Stroke 27
Terce : Gregor Mendel and script 29
Sans merci 30
Gregor Mendel and the calico caps 32
DNA 34
Questions of replication : the brittle-star 36
Ecstasy 38
Sunderance 40
The monarchs 42
Sext: Gregor Mendel and the bells 44
Redux 49
Errand 50
Gregor Mendel and the cats 52
Desire 54
On color vision through a prism 56
Nineteen thirty-four 58
Vespers: Gregor Mendel and steam 60
Sonnet crown for two voices 61
Epilogue : tulips, some said 69
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