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amit majmudar

Alicia E. Stallings, Archaic Smile.
This poet started out miraculous and has been improving her work rigorously over the past decade. She is not content—the way Kay Ryan, Collins, and Oliver are—to replicate early successes. Her early successes, and successes they are, you will find collected here.

Alicia E. Stallings, Hapax.
The fugue complicates itself; the fractal goes intricate; the crystal branches ever more finely. She distinguishes herself as a poet for whom the culture’s poetic past(s) and present are foregrounded in the same plane; there is no silly striving after “timeliness.” Her timeliness is the perpetual timeliness of music.

Kay Ryan, The Best of It.
I have an essay about her forthcoming in June’s The Threepenny Review. It identifies seven paradoxical masks—Infinitude Disguised as the Sound Bite, Irrationality Disguised as Logic, Individuality Disguised as the Impersonal, Subjectivity Disguised as Dissolution, Design Disguised as Accident, Inclusiveness Disguised as Exclusion, and Vision Disguised as Observation—through which this poet achieves her sublime ends. I refer the reader to that issue for more detailed admiration.

Christian Wiman, Every Riven Thing.
You know you’re a good poet when you form-reject me regularly and I still can’t help but like you. In his most successful poems, the formal decisions, like those of Todd Boss, follow those of Kay Ryan; he is one of the many poets on whom she has had a salutary influence. He also has a terminal hematological malignancy, which he himself has made public; this fact, always in the back of the mind (both his and the reader’s), adds a based-on-a-true-story frisson to the poems about dying.

Don Paterson, [Insert Title Here].
The great British master-poet. He, too, has worked constantly to transfigure himself. He began with a few books in which he presented himself a bawling-brawling, tough-guy-with-a-heart type. Then, just as fatherhood was deepening him, he began translating some poets rather unlike him, Machado and Rilke (Stallings, too, nota bene, has translated Lucretius), and he came out the other side with his language purified. I prefer his later books to his early ones, but all are uniformly masterful.

BIO: Amit Majmudar is a diagnostic radiologist specializing in nuclear medicine. His first book, 0′,0′, was published by Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books. His second manuscript, Heaven and Earth, won the 2011 Donald Justice Award. His first novel, Partitions, is forthcoming from Holt/Metropolitan in 2011 as well. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry Magazine, 32 Poems Magazine, and The Best American Poetry anthology.


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!