By Susan B. A. Somers-Willett
(University of Georgia Press, Paperback, 9780820333274, 102pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
Categories: American - General
At the crossroads of science, mathematics, and art lives Quiver, a stunning collection of poems that seeks to reconcile the empirical truths of science with the emotional truths of human experience. Through an ambitious set of poetic series and sequences, Somers-Willett reinvents the love poem, rendering an exquisite world where the graph of a mathematical equation can become the image of "love's witness / running with its arms open all the way home." With a deft, meditative sense of music, Quiver reveals a relationship between science and human sentiment that is as surprising as it is profound.
Susan B. A. Somers-Willett is the author of a book of poetry, Roam, and a book of criticism, The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race, Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America. She is an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University.
"In Susan B. A. Somers-Willett's Quiver, poetic imagination and scientific theory merge as 'math enacts speculation' and 'the beloved atoms sing.' Darwin, Oppenheimer, and the Curies appear amid the images and meditations rendered by her generous, yet discerning skill. Somers-Willett is a poet as passionate and inventive as the radical thinkers she counts among her muses. Quiver is a marvel of exacting speculation and song."—Terrance Hayes, author of Wind in a Box
"The poems in Quiver reverberate with the ravishing and harrowing erotics of the natural world as they consider first and last things, figure and ground, the visible and reticent. In the nineteenth century, a prophetic Whitman sang the body electric. Here, in a powerfully imaginative group of poems on the Curies, radium opens its mouth 'to crow / the dawn atomic.' Such richly observant poems 'glow in the small moments,' even as they take on the largest subjects. Susan B. A. Somers-Willett is a marvelously intelligent poet, attentive to the possibilities of nature and language, the reciprocity of all that is.”—Alice Fulton, author of Cascade Experiment
"Quiver is about the connection between the natural world and how we live in it. Whether about physics, relationships, or pure observation, it's the language of these poems—rich with stunning lyricism, rich with not merely fact, but also many truths—that Susan B. A. Somers-Willett uses to unlock the secrets of this world. She lays out the factors of metaphor and music in surprising ways, and her solution for X is always satisfying, ringing with the thrill of discovery and unvarnished emotion. These gifts are why 'I will travel the black lines, nearly out of sight . . . / I will ride the light's bending into this inverted world,' trusting the poet every step of this journey."—A. Van Jordan, author of Quantum Lyrics
"Anyone fascinated by what comes of the passionate coupling of science and art will devour this collection of poems. Somers-Willett's poetic imagination plumbs the wonders and mysteries of dark matter, relativity, atomic physics, and natural history with lyricism, reverence, and delight."—Orion Magazine