Lord Brain is an extended meditation on the psyche (in its double sense of mind and soul) in its relationship to that three-pound bundle in our skull. Bruce Beasley’s collection of thirty-one poems is named for Sir Walter Russell Brain, or Lord Brain (1895-1966), the eminent British neuroscientist and author of Brain’s Diseases of the Nervous System. Bringing into conversation the disparate fields of neuroscience, theology, linguistics, particle physics, and theology, these poems investigate in both lyrical and scientific terms the relationship of brain to mind and soul, and of brain to the cosmos and God. Whether discussing cosmology or astrophysics, neurobiology or insect physiology, Lord Brain connects the inner cosmos of our human anatomy with the external forces (material and divine) that brought the cosmos into being.
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Bruce Beasley’s Lord Brain is a passionate, timely, and immensely smart meditation on what it’s like to inhabit the dark spaces between what we know about the universe and what might serve to comfort us. In its anguished encounter with science, it is reminiscent of Tennyson’s In Memoriam . . . The poems in Lord Brain are endlessly inventive . . . The restless energy of the attempt is as exciting as its self-confrontation and honesty are unnerving. The schemata of liturgy, linguistics, and confession collide throughout these poems like unpredictable particles that just might explode. . . It’s as if the reader has been crammed into a cyclotron with the ghosts of Joyce and Beckett…
Though at times as dense of Hopkins, the basic mode of these poems is a clear language and spoken cadence, studded with terminology from neurology, cosmology, subatomic physics, and theology, and interlaced with references to Medieval lullaby, Book of Revelation, Keats, and Descartes, to name only a few.
Lord Brain is . . . a remarkably compelling [read], with the intensity of a personal liturgy made out of science, love, and despair, plus a remarkable range of craft . . . Beasley has confronted our multiple realities in a daring and powerful way.
If I were President I would legalize all sorts of exciting marriages. Today, chief among them would be the History of Neuroscience wedded to the Spirit of Cutting-Edge Poetry. The best man would be Deep Intellect, the maid of honor would be High Feelings, and the groomsmen and the bridesmaids behind them would jump back and forth, exchanging places like a wild dance of negative and positive particles; like the hemispheres of the brain playing dress-up in one another’s clothes; like fact in ecstasy drag, and ecstasy in the guise of medical journalism. The vows would be conducted, of course, by Bruce Beasley, who has also authored the text for the service. Take a hint from me: hurry up and RSVP.
Beasley’s remarkable new poems are their writer’s effort at healing the post-Enlightenment rifts between art and science, intellect and passion, faith and skepticism. They are brave and wonderfully extravagant poems, in equal measures sorcery, anatomy lesson, and prayer. He is one of the most searching and original voices at work today.
—David Wojahn, author of Spirit Cabinet
In language so charged and precise it echoes our “neurons’ billions of little sizzles”, Beasley has written a stunning meditation on the interpenetrations of brain and soul. Through his extensive research we are educated; though his lyricism, charmed, stunned, quickened and soothed; and through his ultimate vision, transported, as “the atoms of unmeaning assemble into form.”
—Linda Bierds author of The Seconds
A thought-provoking new collection of poems . . . Intellectually, emotionally, and (e)viscerally―Beasley gets you coming and going. . . . As poetry, Lord Brain is an ecstatic explosion of language. It is a fearless investigation into questions of science and faith. It is difficult and provocative on many levels. Which is exactly why you should read it.