Booklist Reviews FIELD THEORIES by Samiya Bashir

Booklist Reviews FIELD THEORIES by Samiya Bashir

In this electrifying collection, Bashir co-opts the vernacular of thermodynamics to generate clever,ambitious poems: “We call it dark matter because it doesn’t interact with light”; “Blackbody curve”; and,  of course, the titular “Field Theories.” Bashir plays with double meanings, unusual narrative structure, and experimental visual arrangements, such as “Law of total probability,” about an office shooting, from which conspicuous circular portions of the text have been removed. In another, “Blackbody radiation,” the text has been scrambled on the page, thrown together with mathematical signs and symbols. The book alternates between these science-inspired, avant-garde pieces and an extended sequence about the legendary John Henry. By pairing this monumental black figure with the terminology of scientific fields that have been defined by whiteness, Bashir creates a jarring, resonant contrast in this substantial gathering. The result is a dynamic, shape-shifting machine of perpetual motion that reveals poignant observance (“Even Jesus let / his baker’s dozen fend / for themselves once”) and verges toward hallucination (“We blow smoke rings and shape them into big beaned cloud gates”) — Diego Báez

Field Theories by Samiya Bashir