Donated Book Now Available at Samuels Public Library
Worlds of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil
There’s a spot over Lake Superior where migrating butterflies veer sharply. No one understood why they made such a quick turn until a geologist finally made the connection: a mountain rose out of the water in that location thousands of years ago.
How can butterflies and their offspring still remember a mass they’ve never seen? How did they pass on this knowledge of the indivisible? Or why is there only one particular place in North America– the Great Smokey Mountains – where the synchronous firefly converges in June for a flashing display? In this elegant memoir, such marvels are explored through a poet’s eyes, interwoven with her life stories, to reveal the wonders of life that surround and inform us.
As a child, celebrated poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipino mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted – no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape – she found herself seeking guidance and clarity from an astonishing variety of fierce and funny creatures.
“What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl, a delightful amphibious creature that can regenerate its limbs over and over, teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.
As Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights writes, “Sometimes we need teachers who remind us how to be flabbergasted … and enswooned by the wonders of this earth…. How to be in love with this, our beloved earth.” Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Mini Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four collections of poems, including, most recently, Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Other awards for her writing include fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prizes, Mississippi Arts Council, and MacDowell. Her writing has been anthologized twice in the Best American Poetry series and appears in Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, ESPN, and Tin House. She is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.