Author: Samiya Bashir
Publisher: Nightboat Books (2017)
Field Theories wends its way through quantum mechanics, chicken wings and Newports, love and a shoulder's chill, melding blackbody theory (idealized perfect absorption, as opposed to white body's idealized reflection) with real live Black bodies. Albert Murray said, "the second law of thermodynamics ain't nothing but the blues. So what is the blue of how we treat each other, ourselves, of what this world does to us, of what we do to this shared world? Woven through experimental lyrics is a heroic crown of sonnets that wonders about love and intent, identity and hybridity, and how we embody these interstices and for what reasons and to what ends.
"There are pecks here, as units of measure for hidden sweetness. And dag! Dag is here, scatted at Detroit depth. Field Theories is flush with blue notes, swung in the exercise and exorcism of blue devils, the off minor, off spherical acoustics of "baby we won" and "not the father" are folded into the gravity of a unified feel, the beauty and violence of inseparable differences, some impossible someone's arms. Our tongues are in the pitch black mouth she conjures and records. This is our music."
"Samiya Bashir's poems have a terrific edginess. Reclaim, notice, and repair through the exigencies poetry it present. That's a theory. Be an alchemist of the quotidian and you will survive. Another theory. Bashir's poems blend with sweet surprise in juxtapositions like "cumulonimbus snee-". Quantum mechanics get ready. It is a trembling vital field this poet is traveling in."
"Samiya Bashir's Field Theories is science as only poetry can be. She's done her research and now she rethinks everything she gets her pen on: the relationship of dark matter to the sun, the possibilities of the heroic crown of sonnets, Keatsian aesthetics, social re- and inter-actions, and language itself. These poems are alive, are woman-truth, are burning darkly. Grab your shades. No: fire up your magnetosphere. This book is "black body radiation," and you can't handle it—but you've got to."
"To read Samiya Bashir's poetry is to be pulled up by a force so intense and magnetic as to constitute a new field of action: dark matter and radiation, witness and redaction, and the pendulum of time and history, swinging, swinging. I am reminded of Melvin Tolson's description of the night on which that legendary steel-driver John Henry was born: 'an ax of lightning split the sky.' This book splits the sky right open, swinging like a melody, swinging like a boxer, swinging on each elemental and freighted word to beat the devil."
"Samiya Bashir plays language like some great players work a sax. To experience this book is to experience true pleasure, but Bashir uses the logic of tones and scales and resonance to make our hearts ache a little, too. Even when they are rendered a little strange—as the equations that describe the laws of physics seem strange until we get a handle on them—the truths she points to cannot be refuted. Wrapped up in the calculated music of these poems, what she has to tell us cannot be ignored."
–Camille T. Dungy
"A lyric scientist at the top of her game, Samiya Bashir explores the emotional and cultural physics of desire, love, loss, family, history, and everyday existence in her new collection Field Theories. These inventive poems move across a range of psychicscapes, recentering black voices and bodies through blackbody theory and quantum mechanics, backyard meditation and bedroom lament. Bashir asks and shows with consummate artistry, what are the deep and hidden laws that divide and connect us?"