From Publishers Weekly
The principles of physics, the lives of physicists (especially Albert Einstein) and the dilemmas of classic comic book heroes provide Van Jordan (M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A
) with the structure and occasions for his often delightful, always clear and occasionally profound third volume. The second and longest of its three sections follows Einstein's biography from early adulthood and first marriage (to the mathematician Mileva Maric, the mother of his children) through infidelities, emigration, fame, travels in America and Einstein's latter-day campaigns against nuclear weapons and racial injustice. Terms from physics make easy (at times, too easy) metaphors for more human concerns: promise me/ you'll never cease being/ the elegant equation, Einstein asks Maric; decades afterwards, Paul Robeson muses, during his meeting with the great thinker, My voice/ is as dangerous as any atom splitting/ open. The best poems here leave famous thinkers and performers behind—the set of short poems about the superhero called the Atom, for example, who maintained a secret identity as a lovelorn physicist and whose powers let him shrink down to nuclear size: It was as if no one had seen me// until I mastered the science// of shrinking my body. (July)
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About the Author
A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, and Quantum Lyrics. Among other awards, he has received the Whiting Award, the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and the Pushcart Prize. A professor of English at the University of Michigan, he lives in Ann Arbor.