Doubt & Circuitry (Southern Arizona Press 2023)
Poet, novelist, and long-time radio enthusiast T.D. Walker has written a book that speaks to the crisis of our time. Forged during the COVID lockdown when citizens were both terrified of contagion yet newly unified by extremity, these poignant verses invite us to consider how language shapes the menaces around us whether it might be the casualties of the 1982 Falkland War, the 1986 nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, or “how many ways there are to destroy the earth.” Weaving together many strands from her specialized knowledge — for example, references about HAARP, high frequency radio waves, ionospheric heating, and the Shortwave Transmissions Project — Doubt & Circuitry is always bristling with verbal energy and unexpected turns in strong, limber lines. Essential reading.
— LindaAnn LoSchiavo, Elgin Award winner and four-time nominee for The Pushcart Prize
A gorgeous and thought-provoking exploration of tragedy, science, and the intersection of the two. The poems in this collection braid together in startling ways, allowing us to see their topics in entirely new lights.
— Cassandra Rose Clarke, Rhysling Award Finalist and author of Sacred Summer
Doubt & Circuitry offers a vision of motherhood during the Covid 19 pandemic as seen through a series of intimate exchanges with personifications of the CONELRAD emergency alert system, HAARP, DUGA and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Interweaving contemporary conspiracy theories with fairytales of unknown origin and conflicting versions, these poems pair scientific enquiry and skepticism with the beauty of mystery and the veracity of incomplete memory. Born out of the Covid 19 pandemic, when society was split between those who took the state of emergency seriously, and those who thought it was conspiracy, Doubt & Circuitry works against misinformation spawned by ideologies of safety in patriotism and situates experiences of motherhood amidst a series of intimate exchanges with personified instruments of the cold war, conspiracy theories, and nuclear power plants. With an oceanic ecology standing in for that of the ionosphere and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the role of a tragic mother figure, Walker offers elegant yet provocative comparisons between military technology and the realm of domesticity. Boldly engaging with the viscera of conspiracy theories, the book invites the reader into a series of intimate exchanges about motherhood with the personified instruments of the cold war and particle physics. Be it the distance between radio frequencies of the CONELRAD emergency alert system, or the social distances between children in a park, she traces the fluid perimeters of independence versus those of isolation. Interweaving contemporary conspiracy theories with fairytales of unknown origin and conflicting versions, these poems pair scientific enquiry and skepticism with the beauty of mystery and the veracity of incomplete memory.
— Amanda Dawn Christie, Director of Spectres of Shortwave and Creator of Ghosts in the Air Glow
Doubt & Circuitry is T. D. Walker’s bravura exploration of the parallels and overlaps between past and present, between the known and the unknown. Two sonnet coronas juxtapose the cold war in the U.S. (in distant memory) and the COVID pandemic (in current experience) as well as the Chernobyl disaster in the USSR against, again, the pandemic. Links between sonnets bridge from the close of one sonnet to the opening of the next sonnet, as well as the opening of the second half of that sonnet (the two parts of each sonnet reflecting and refracting past and present). The result is a very flexible poetic form that allows a widely variable and imaginative probing into the ineffable. The book will surprise you with the breadth and breath of Walker’s investigations of the unknowable.
— Vince Gotera, former editor, North American Review and Star*Line