Tethered to Stars
Tethered to Stars inhabits the deductive tongue of astronomy, the oracular throat of astrology, and the living language of loss and desire. With an analytical eye and a lyrical heart, Fady Joudah shifts deftly between the microscope, the telescope, and sometimes even the horoscope. His gaze lingers on the interior space of a lung, on a butterfly poised on a filament, on the moon temple atop Huayna Picchu, on a dismembered live oak. In each lingering, Joudah shares with readers the palimpsest of what makes us human: “We are other worms / for other silk roads.” The solemn, the humorous, the erotic, the transcendent—all of it, in Joudah’s poems, steeped in the lexicon of the natural world. “When I say honey,” says one lover, “I’m asking you whose pollen you contain.” “And when I say honey,” replies another, “you grip my sweetness / on your life, stigma and anthophile.”
Teeming with life but tinged with a sublime proximity to death, Tethered to Stars is a collection that flows “between nuance and essentialization,” from one of our most acclaimed poets.
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Praise and Prizes
“This is what we have had to do, amid pandemic, grief, political chaos, fires, human rights disasters: continue on with our lives. Doing chores … taking walks … teaching kids … trying to stay steady. In his brilliant forthcoming book, Tethered to Stars, Fady Joudah writes about the mysterious cosmos swirling with intricate linkages — as his phone is pinging. Ah, yes, Jerusalem, the Holy City! Right now, let’s call all our cities holy. Let’s hope our trees continue to communicate, whatever humans can or can’t accomplish.”
“This is a treatise on cosmic unity that does not shy away from grief, but that yearns for the immense, abstract sense of possibility, believing that ‘a heart remains a heart in its beyond’ . . . The clarity of Joudah’s imagery is countered by a complex choral voice that feels at turns analytical and biblical in its rise and fall. Each poem seems to be spoken from various perspectives, the roving voices echoing and replacing one another in their observations until both the speaker and addressee dissolve. ‘You’ll be everywhere,’ one poem closes. Joudah offers a nuanced vision of what connects man to the cosmos in this deeply searching book.”
“Joudah is uniquely capable of crafting language that moves fluidly between lyrical abstraction and clinical precision . . . Like the stars its title invokes, Joudah’s latest is mysterious and ruminative.”
“[Joudah is a] luminous aesthete who thinks in nuance, in refinements."
“Joudah’s poetry thrives on dramatic shifts in perspective, on continually challenging received notions.”
“True to its title, Joudah’s collection of poems musically connects the body to the Earth and the Earth to the stars . . . It’s earthy and ethereal, as we are.”
“So much of Tethered to Stars grapples with what is difficult to understand. From the nature of stars to racial tension, mortality, and his own cultural heritage, Joudah uses his lyricism to attempt to uncover life's mysteries. This collection deals with these complex and inexplicable topics, and yet it does so in a way that never abandons its tenderness, curiosity, and admiration for the beauty of the world.”
“Joudah centers his fifth poetry collection on the 12 star signs and other astrological phenomena, blending his physician's penchant for precision and the poet's ear for lyricism . . . What shines most brightly here is Joudah's ability to render extended imagery that plays out over several poems. An uprooted oak in one poem creates a place to plant olive pits in another. Dandelion and sunflower florets populate the pages. Butterflies lay eggs in lemon trees and enchant speakers from afar . . . Another stellar entry in this poet's expansive body of work.”
“Joudah uses language both rich and fiercely honed to consider the sweeping universe and our sometimes troublesome place in it.”