Mendeleev's Mandala (英語) ペーパーバック – 2015/2/1
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Poetry. MENDELEEV'S MANDALA begins in pilgrimage and ends in pilgrimage, but nowhere in-between does it find a home. Logic is the lodestar, as these poems struggle to make sense out of chaos. Jessica Goodfellow reimagines stories from the Old Testament, Greek mythology, and family history by invoking muses as diverse as Wittgenstein, Newton, the Wright Brothers, and an ancient Japanese monk. In the title poem, Mendeleev's periodic table, sparked by fire and by trains, sees the elements of the world come into focus as a geometric pattern that recalls the ancient mandalas, also blueprints of an expanding universe as a whole.
Throughout this book, Goodfellow uses and misuses mathematics, cosmology, biology, and etymology to push the boundaries of poetic form in a manner that mimics how time and tragedy push the human form to its limits. An examination of the history of clocks reveals that the human body is the ultimate clock. Aging, physical deterioration, and the disintegration of relationships are experienced as a ratio of what can and what can't be seen- the slow calamity of vision loss, both literal and metaphorical. Yet, despite the gravity of their themes, these poems are often heartbreakingly funny. Vacillating wildly between the consultation of gurus, monks, and fortunes tellers, and the chasing of reason as redemption in the face of impermanence, this book is equal parts wander and wonder. Welcome to the pilgrimage.
"This book is a library whittled down to a message in a bottle. Here is a poet who has boldly refused to abide to the expectations of genrebut instead, pushes language and form as a means of asking the most urgent questions. The result is a courageous and kaleidoscopic, at times tender and vulnerable, exploration of motherhood and familyset against the backdrops of science, history, religion, myths, and mathematics. When a poet embarks on a book as myriad and borderless as this one, we are gifted the rare chance to stand at the threshold of a formidable human storm. And from here, it is clear that Goodfellow's MENDELEEV'S MANDALA is an electric book. But its lines are not limited to lightning. They move more like thunder, startling, resonant, and suddenly everywhere in the mind at once."Ocean Vuong
"Jessica Goodfellow has a joyous intelligence and electric tongue. Reading this book a first time, my only regret was that I couldn't read it a second first time. But then I read it a first second time and a first third. You see what I'm doing? I'm reading this book over and over, without ever completely taking it in. I think you will too. And like me, want only one thing from Jessica Goodfellowmore."Bob Hicok
"From the origin of the number zero to immigration to map making, these poems leap dynamically between ideas and a blazing exploration of language. Folding and unfolding with searing brilliance, these poems reveal our human condition with a down-to- earth sense of humor and wonder. This must-read collection nourishes mind and body and opens up whole new ways of seeing the world around us."Judy Halebsky
Here is one of the poems about time.
A Metronome is the Opposite of Wind
Wind launches the laundry, shakes hands
with a scarecrow, shuffles rust-edged petals
of dogwood, hungry for anything hung,
dangled, crucified. Who do you—or maybe
Hoodoo you. She calls, passing. The wind is
a woman, we say, when a thing disappears;
a man, when a thing is demolished.
I’ve come to the field today to be
away from metronome, clock, and door—
instruments of opening and closing, doing,
undoing, redoing. The wind is no one’s
instrument; it opens and opens, which is why
it cannot stay. Once you made me a gift
of a metronome, saying, Without symmetry,
there’d be too much to desire. What your rule forgets
is the human heart’s four unequal chambers,
left of center. But its valves close and open,
its throbbing is even, metronome in give-and-take
with wind. Or vice versa. No one’s wholly satisfied,
or wholly dispossessed, in this elliptical ruin of breath.
The 12 poems that comprise the “time” section of the collection (section two) are particular favorites. Included in the 12 are poems about a candle clock, a sundial, an hourglass, the invention of the clock face, and even a list of words a blind man’s wife must no longer use (and, yes, it’s about time).
Goodfellow has published two previous collections and received a number of awards. She currently works at a university in Japan. “Mendeleev’s Mandala” is an intriguing collection. If it’s an indication of future work, we have some great poetry to look forward to.