Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance
An 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.