Taking the name of a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary shaking, Essential Tremor undertakes an exploration of the body that holds disruption at its heart. The captivating and timely poems in Essential Tremor attend to many bodies—the body of the world, changing, unreachable, at times momentarily illumined; the human body, loved, ill, mourning, passing or passed from this world; and the divine body, questioned, encountered and not, sought by people from the margins in the body of a biblical palimpsest. In her third collection, award-winning poet Barbara Nickel blends sonnets in sequences and scattered stand-alones with more formal innovations and extensions—erasures of the notes accompanying da Vinci’s anatomical drawings, lines found from Beethoven’s autopsy, and the musings of poet isolating in the midst of a twenty-first-century pandemic. Nickel asks her readers to consider the many facets of the body, how it finds the words, lines and poems that together form an essential life, a gift among our deepest wounds and terrors.
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