Notes on Amit Majmudar

February 12, 2010

In addition to his work as a diagnostic radiologist specializing in nuclear medicine, Amit Majmudar is a poet. We published “American Amorobiotics, Inc.” in 32 Poems, and I’ve followed his work ever since. He’s also been published in POETRY and New England Review.

His book, Zero Degrees, Zero Degrees, was published by Northwestern University Press. About the book, they say:

0° , 0° is where the equator and prime meridian cross, but it is also, in Amit Majmudar’s poetic cartography, “the one True Cross, the rood’s wood warped and tacked / pole to pole.” Unlikely intersections lie at the heart of Amit Majmudar’s first collection of poetry. Mythical, biblical, political, and scientific allusion thrive side by side, inspiring surprise and wonder. Majmudar’s training as a medical doctor is clearly at work as he is able to balance poetic forms requiring surgical precision—including the exceedingly difficult ghazal—with warmth and compassion for the world. Majmudar understands suffering on the large scale and the small, whether he is speaking up for the biblical character Job and “answering the whirlwind,” or tallying the human cost of war at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Instructions to an Artisan

Into the rood wood, where the grain’s current splits
around the stones of its knots, carve eyelashes and eyelids.
Dye the knots, too—indigo, ink-black, vermillion
irises. These will be his eyes, always open, willing
themselves not to close when dust rises or sweat falls,
eyes witnessing, dimly, the eclipse that shawls
the shuddering hill, Jerusalem’s naked shoulder.
The body itself? From a wick that still whiffs of smolder,
wax, because wax sloughs a smooth skein on the fingers just
below sensation’s threshold. Prop the cross
upright and let the tear-hot wax trickle, slow, clot, taper
into a torso, thighs, calves, feet. Of Gideon Bible paper,
thinner than skin, cut him his scrap of cloth; embed
iron shavings in his forehead,
and, as the wax cools, scrape the rust off an old fuel can
to salt the whole wound that is the man.
Cry, if you feel like crying, and if no one else is there.
Then set it on the counter with your other wares.

Buy the book already!

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