Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox

Book Review: Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox

Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox

Poetry: Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox

Poetry can slice deeply into the human heart and leave it open and vulnerable. When the poems involve an actual heart transplant, that truism may be more accurate than ever. Marjorie Maddox’s collection of poems, Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, reflects on her father’s heart transplant, on the human body in general, on faith, and on life. At times I had to put it down to catch my breath. These poems are beautiful, but they are also painful. I found that the poet not only exposed her own life to us, but at times she exposed my own as well.

 

Perhaps reading this collection when a loved one of my own is facing the possibility of a transplant made me more vulnerable to the concept. The very first poem talks about the stranger whose car accident killed him–making his heart available for transplant. “His heart is buried/in my father/who is buried.” What a searing, painful thing to write. Hope, loss, grief, all wrapped up in the first stanza of the book. The relief of finding a heart, of seeing the transplant done, and the agony of knowing that death was still the end result. Some might have been silenced by that tragedy. This poet instead turns her grief into eloquence and beauty.

 

An entire section of the book is poems about the human body. I will admit to never before reading a poem devoted to the spleen, or to the pancreas. A couple of the poems are written to not only pay tribute to the organs themselves through their words, but also in the shape and arrangement of the words. Her poem about the ribs, for example, is formatted in an oval shape, with very short lines at the top and bottom and longer lines in the middle.

 

Many of the poems reflect not only a deep faith but a profound grasp of the details of that faith. Two sections devote large portions to explorations of faith and its expression. If the word “transubstantiation” in the title was not enough of a clue, poems about the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Marriage, and others clearly show a deep engagement with church and its teachings. I found her comparison of marriage to other sacraments (baptism, confirmation, extreme unction, etc.) to be both thoughtful and profound.

 

Marjorie Maddox is a local writer, a professor at Lock Haven University, and we are very grateful she reached out to us and asked us to review her book. Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation is an eloquent and thoughtful collection, full of faith and embracing of life–up to and including its end. Whether you are a person of faith or not, this collection will help you appreciate the richness and fullness of life.

Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox

Book Review: Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Marjorie Maddox