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Gondwana (Paperback) (Nathaniel Tarn)
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Gondwana: an ancient supercontinent long-dispersed into fragments in the Southern Hemisphere. Contemplating this once-massive landmass at the the end of the world while looking out at the ethereal blue ice of Antarctica, Nathaniel Tarn writes: “They said back then / there was a frozen continent / in those high latitudes encircling the globe: /are you moving toward it?” The various parts of Gondwana cohere into a unified whole that celebrates bird flight, waves, and innervating light while warning against environmental calamity. Some poems celebrate the New Mexican desert as it becomes a place of protest against the invasion of Afghanistan; in another, the rising and falling stairs at Fez in Morocco meld into a meditation on marriage, empire, and the origins of climbing. Elsewhere the heroic fighter pilot Lydia Litvyak is personified as Eurydice speaking to her Captain as Orpheus; and in the final long section, “Exitus Generis Humani,” lines pour over the reader in slow, mournful, yet often humorous, song, revealing “the poets’ hearts are a world’s heart” as the human race ends and whole armies sink into the earth “yearning for mother love.” Celebrated as a poet where “inquiry and ethical action are imperative” (Joseph Donahue, Jacket2), Nathaniel Tarn has lifted up a mind-heart mirror of our contemporary existence in Gondwana and warns us of a definitive ending if we do not demand radical change.