First Hand

First Hand

by Linda Bierds
     
 

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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

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.

Author Bio: Linda Bierds is the author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently The Seconds. Among her many awards are a PEN-West poetry prize, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill, John Simon Guggenheim, Wolfers-O'Neill, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundations.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399152610
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
04/28/2004
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

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