2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2011 National Book Critics Circle Finalist
Between Art & Science, Nature & Politics,
Reviewed by Donna Seaman for Booklist
A poet with a geology degree (as well as a translator and Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and NEA fellow), Gander is an envoy between art and science, nature and politics. In his newest collection, he combines poetry, journal-like essay-poems, and photographs in an intimate inquiry into what it means to be “a foreigner.” Yoking fact and metaphor, anecdote and empathy, Gander writes with warmth, humor, and concern about his sojourns in China, Mexico, Chile, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In his poetic responses to the evocative photographs of Raymond Meeks, Graciela Iturbide, and Lucas Foglia, he maps diverse landscapes, from a “cauterized topography” on which emaciated workers are “ghosted” with dust, to the lush American South of “warbler-quickened birches” and “pawpaws clumped along the creek” to the Mexican desert where plastic bags are “snagged” in towering cacti. Gander tenderly portrays writers at international conferences addled by simultaneous translation, young men weary of war, a back-to-the-wild commune, and patients in a clinic. “Each a stranger to the other’s strangeness.” Wry and glimmering, Gander’s border crossings and core samples illuminate places that grant revelations bemusing and profound.