Poetry Book Club: Decade of the Brain by Janine Joseph
The collection is an odyssey of what it means to recover—physically and mentally—in the aftermath of trauma and traumatic brain injury, charting when "before" crosses into "after." Through connected poems, buckling and expansive syntax, ekphrasis, and conjoined poetic forms, Decade of the Brain remembers and misremembers hospital visits, violence and bodily injury, intimate memories, immigration status, family members, and the self.
"Janine Joseph is a virtuoso of refraction and reflection, resisting metaphor in favor of immediate and vivid description in this remarkable account of a life-changing injury and the effort to recover memory, language, self. Formally inventive, these poems stay awake to the complexities of the human mind even in the midst of recovery from trauma, the way words are always slippery and elusive when we need them most to be solid objects. A fascinating, moving collection."
"Along the stunningly crafted and radiant syntax of Decade of the Brain, I edge the edges of languages, bodies, selfhood, and estrangement, into experiences of disorientation. Joseph's speakers articulate the strangeness of living in relation to other past and simultaneous selves changed by injury, intimacy, notions of citizenship, and nation. Each line is a shock of words, then an unraveling. Dense with expansive, precise sound, this book is a stunning grappling with the possibility and powers of an irreconcilable self.”