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.
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Praise and Prizes
“An intensely vulnerable book. Fady Joudah has been writing essential poetry for some time, but few books of American poetry seem to me as essential as this one: it is forging a lyric that works at the crosscurrents of reportage, myth, and dream where falsely imagined boundaries—of gender, nation, family—fray and unfold. Joudah’s gifts for articulating the intersections of bewilderment, tenderness, rage, and grief are fully alive here. These poems blaze into the visionary.”
“Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is the work of a restless poetic mind whose inventive and capacious poems bring wonder and skepticism and incandescent language to bear on questions of human experience.”
“Minimal lines carry so much meaning here. Joudah also peppers his book with supple prose poems, their syntax delivering surprises. . . . This is beautiful writing.”
“Light suffuses this collection of tender poems about our (often tenuous) connectedness. A doctor, Joudah reads bodies like texts, illuminating their stories.”
“Exceptional . . . Joudah’s collection is testament to another state of being in which each poem is an occasion to be awake to the world with clarity and compassion.”
“Reading Joudah’s collection is an emotional journey. There are many heart-rending, tender, sad and beautiful moments.”
"Joudah’s thought-provoking and imaginative juxtapositions shine throughout. . . . These poems are pertinent and immediately alive. This collection is not only a deeply rewarding and enjoyable read; it’s also an important one."
“[Footnotes in Order of Disappearance] is ripe with delight and honesty and want. The poems . . . are crackling, lyrical things, written with meticulous attention to imagery.”
“Disappearing footnotes to the vertiginous—and illegible—text of our time? Meanings unmoored between pillager and villager? Between toothsome and toothache? The limits of our language may well be the limits of our world. At moments, however, Fady Joudah’s language, its restless questing, seems limitless, its space fractured yet unbounded, its urgency ever palpable.”
“If you love poetry, or simply wonder what powerful poetry is and what it can do for you, then the poems of Fady Joudah are waiting for you. Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is an impossibly beautiful mix of magic, science and skepticism. Poems such as ‘1st Love,’ ‘Bean Stalk,’ and ‘The Scream’––among others––are among the best I’ve read in ages. This is a book that’s hard to put down. It’s difficult not to feel utterly changed after having read it.”