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.