Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance: Poems
Fady Joudah (Author)
DescriptionAn exquisite and humane collection set to leave its mark on American poetics of the body and the body politic. In Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance, Fady Joudah has written love poems to the lovely and unlovely, the loved and unloved. Here he celebrates moments of delight and awe with his wife, his mentors, his friends, and the beauty of the natural world. Yet he also finds tenderness for the other, the dead, and the disappeared, bringing together the language of medicine with the language of desire in images at once visceral and vulnerable. A symptomatic moon. A peach, quartered like a heart, and a heart, quartered like a peach. "I call the finding of certain things loss." Joudah is a translator between the heart and the mind, the flesh and the more-than-flesh, the word body and the world body--and between languages, with a polyglot's hyperresonant sensibility. In "Sagittal Views," the book's middle section, Joudah collaborates with Golan Haji, a Kurdish Syrian writer, to foreground the imaginative act of constructing memory and history. Together they mark the place the past occupies in the body, the cut that "runs deeper than speech." Generous in its scope, inventive in its movements and syntax, Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is a richly rewarding and indispensable collection.
March 13, 2018
5.4 X 0.4 X 8.4 inches | 0.3 pounds
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About the Author
Fady Joudah has published three books of poems, The Earth in the Attic, Alight, and Textu, a book-long sequence of short poems whose meter is cellphone character count. He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN Translation Award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement Prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Houston, with his wife and kids, where he practices internal medicine.
"Joudah's poetry thrives on dramatic shifts in perspective, on continually challenging received notions."--Guardian Praise for Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance "Footnotes in the Order of the Disappearance is an intensely vulnerable book: vulnerable in its questions, in its openness to the reality of others, those who are present and those who are not. Even as it interrogates the fraught limitations of these attempts, it delves deeply into the challenge of attuning the body and language toward alertness, inviting us into a series of deftly made lyric rooms that allow cohabitation with strangeness and strangers, with the dead, with loss, with absence, with unknowing. Fady Joudah has been writing essential poetry for some time, but few books of American poetry seem to me as essential as this one: it is forging a lyric that works at the crosscurrents of reportage, myth, and dream where falsely imagined boundaries--of gender, nation, family--fray and unfold, and there are possibilities other than 'to go mad among the mad / or to go it alone.' Joudah's gifts for articulating the intersections of bewilderment, tenderness, rage, and grief are fully alive here. These poems blaze into the visionary."--Mary Szybist "Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is the work of a restless poetic mind whose inventive and capacious poems bring wonder and skepticism and incandescent language to bear on questions of human experience."--The Rumpus "Minimal lines carry so much meaning here. Joudah also peppers his book with supple prose poems, their syntax delivering surprises. . . . This is beautiful writing."--The Millions "Light suffuses this collection of tender poems about our (often tenuous) connectedness. A doctor, Joudah reads bodies like texts, illuminating their stories."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "Exceptional . . . Joudah's collection is testament to another state of being in which each poem is an occasion to be awake to the world with clarity and compassion."--Publishers Weekly "Joudah's thought-provoking and imaginative juxtapositions shine throughout. . . . These poems are pertinent and immediately alive. This collection is not only a deeply rewarding and enjoyable read; it's also an important one."--The Arkansas International "[Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance] is ripe with delight and honesty and want. The poems . . . are crackling, lyrical things, written with meticulous attention to imagery."--Tupelo Quarterly "Fady Joudah's exquisite Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance engages simultaneously in the acts of giving and receiving under a canopy of tremendous questions--about everyday violence and healing, about humanity and prayer, about wars and how impossible they are. The poems are full of remarkable epiphanies that speak to our contemporary discomforts in ways that are affirming while also recognizing our immediate need to be heard. Bearing witness in poems built on such complex anxieties means being both audience and object somehow and, as the speaker in 'I, the Sole Witness to My Despair, Declare' tells us, 'Anxiety / is a short corridor to the end of things / but the end of things is endless.' This is an extraordinary, vital book that gives voice to many of the things we are afraid to acknowledge."--Adrian Matejka "Disappearing footnotes to the vertiginous--and illegible--text of our time? Meanings unmoored between pillager and villager? Between toothsome and toothache? The limits of our language may well be the limits of our world. At moments, however, Fady Joudah's language, its restless questing, seems limitless, its space fractured yet unbounded, its urgency ever palpable."--Michael Palmer "If you love poetry, or simply wonder what powerful poetry is and what it can do for you, then the poems of Fady Joudah are waiting for you. Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is an impossibly beautiful mix of magic, science, and skepticism. Poems such as '1st Love, ' 'Beanstalk, ' and 'The Scream'--among others--are among the best I've read in ages. This is a book that's hard to put down. It's difficult not to feel utterly changed after having read it."--Rowan Ricardo Phillips "Fady Joudah's masterful Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance combines ecstasy and irony, or perhaps conveys an ecstatic sense of irony that trusts the imagination's associations. The poet's words, scooped from an encyclopedic range of topics and references, make encores and double swerves, through which we learn to learn and learn to unlearn as well. The poet's exilic experience and his profession as a physician, his sites of testimony, offer him and us multiple prisms to move outward in the world and inward into the self, in a reserved tone that preserves ache and joy intact. Joudah's mission is perhaps to spiritualize our minds, and to catch the heart in its deepest modes of thinking, and the outcome is lyric of the highest order."--Khaled Mattawa "Can a doctor diagnose the body politic? Yes, if he is also a poet. Fady Joudah examines his subject with an eye both clinical and caring, alert to the symptoms we don't recognize or won't admit we have. His language is like crystal: patterned, prismatic, sharp. The poet, clear-eyed and truthful even to himself, identifies our choices: 'To go mad among the mad / or go it alone'; offers his treatment: 'I sent up the part of me that was light'; conveys the results: 'Sometimes people survive in spite of us.'"--Evie Shockley "Joudah's latest is a restless questioning of love in its various manifestations. With suppleness and an ear for the remarkable turn, Joudah continues to prove himself as one of our most graceful poets."--Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books Praise for Textu "If William Carlos Williams were alive today he would, perhaps--between seeing patients--write his poems not on scraps of paper but on his smartphone. Fady Joudah has distilled this impulse down to 160 characters--a contained space--until the language becomes a chant, a litany, renewed again and again. Each poem in Textu explodes and then fades, like fireworks that exist in--and for--your palm. Each feels like a daily meditation or prayer, and each seems to reveal something, or come to the edge of revelation."--Nick Flynn Praise for Alight "Joudah conveys suffering without foregoing lyricism, unearthing striking linguistic combinations--'Humvee probability, ' 'pregnant mistletoes'--that enact a physician's precision and a poet's descriptive prowess."--Publishers Weekly (starred) "With anatomical precision, Joudah illustrates scenes that are at once uncanny and contemporary, be it a Bedouin woman's lavender mourning veil, the chrome doors to an alchemist's home, or the mysterious speaker in 'Smoke, ' who exits abruptly and claims to have 'scripts to write and scrolls to find, ' a testament to the duties of attending physician and displaced poet alike. In both roles, Joudah has records to keep and history to revisit, and does so beautifully."--Booklist "Joudah's poetry is rich with the influences and styles of both American and Arabic poetry. It can be personal and image-driven, by turns, as well as discursive and social. Its lyric gifts are as powerful as its narrative impulse."--Kenyon Review Praise for The Earth in the Attic "A luminous aesthete who thinks in nuance, in refinements . . . These are small poems, many of them, but the grandeur of conception inescapable. . . . [The Earth in the Attic] will make itself felt."--Louise Glück "A Palestinian-American doctor treats big themes--war, death, religion--on an intimate scale. Joudah's best work uses his gift for detail to achieve a clear-eyed lyricism."--Entertainment Weekly "The Earth in the Attic underscores Fady Joudah's great talent for exacting naked feelings that engage the age-old mysteries of this world, while maintaining a levelheaded residence amidst the everyday vagaries of modern life. The poems here radiate from the personal out into the larger world, propelling along moments of light and transcendence. With a quiet certainty, Fady Joudah names those ordinary things that hold everything in focus, grounded in a fabular mystery that resonates in the twenty-first century."--Yusef Komunyakaa