“The Table of the Elements” by J.T. Whitehead – selection #37 of Deal Me “IN” 2016


The Card: ♦K♦ King of Diamonds

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, diamonds is my suit for “Stories” by Contemporary Authors with an Indiana Connection

The Selection: “The Table of The Elements” a collection of poems published in 2015.

The Author: J.T. Whitehead – I met him at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (he also happens to be the husband of the Library’s executive director, Julia Whitehead) at the “launch party” for this book. He also serves as the editor of the Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, “So It Goes.”

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storylegacy project seal of approval 2roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.


The Table of the Elements

Okay, so, full disclosure: I don’t (or very rarely) read poetry. I usually don’t “get” poetry. My dad used to like to attempt to memorize poems, and some of his favorites were Poe’s “Annabel Lee” or “The Raven” and Robert W. Service’s “The Cremation of Sam Magee.” As a kid I did like listening to them, and enjoyed their rhythm and meter. Most poetry these days, it seems, is not of the rhyming type, which I think somehow makes it even harder for a brute like me to appreciate it. Nonetheless, I did enjoy working my way through this slim volume of poems.

First of all, I love the concept. Not surprising, since I love the Periodic Table (Nerd alert!) :-). The book is divided into two parts, the first with poems about specific elements, the second with poems about compounds (like nitro glycerine for example – see picture above from infohive.net). I asked the author if he was aware of Sam Kean’s great book “The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Love Madness and The History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements” (Long title; great book – see here for the summary on Goodreads.com). He said he wasn’t but “funny you should ask” as he did encounter other poets who told him he had ripped off their idea. They just weren’t sure how he found out about it(!)

Anyway, instead of reading just one poem for Deal Me “IN” I ended up reading them all as they are mostly short. Here is one favorite, and about one of my “favorite elements” as well.



are as fast

& just as slick

& kill as quick-

Limo lengthy

classy chassis

metal monster

classic auto

Crashing head-ward

tires skidding

metal mangled

causing death

fastest planet

hottest planet

closest planet

chasing death-

gods’ messenger

winged messenger

Death’s messenger

& coming fast –

Tide turner

Skin burner

Gill filler

Fish killer –

Quicksilver –

the slowest killer –

The fastest killer –

A killer –

I have now also acquired a Periodic Table deck of cards (actually two decks – to accommodate more elements) and the King of Diamonds is the card for Iron. There was a poem about Iron included in the book (not all elements were represented, especially trans-uranium ones 🙂 )


(Sometimes when you go to book events, the author will sign your book for you.  Actually, pretty much ALL the time they will 🙂 )

I found a nice interview with Whitehead at http://www.vonnegutlibrary.org/as-is-for-arsenic-an-interview-with-national-book-award-nominee-j-t-whitehead/

Buy this book online from The Broadview River Press at http://www.thebroadkillriverpress.com/apps/webstore/products?page=2

Note: Mercury image from periodictable.com


Deal Me in Week 6 Wrap-Up


Below are links to new posts since last week’s wrap-up. Please take a moment to visit – or even better – leave a comment for this week’s posts. Wo knows, you may find a new favorite story or author among them. And … it’s never too late to join the Deal Me In Challenge, either. 🙂

James tackles John Hersey and Henry James. Will he find a connection between “The Wedding Dress” and “John Delavoy“? http://jamesreadsbooks.com/2014/02/03/henry-james-goes-to-key-west-a-deal-me-in-short-story-challenge-post/



Meet murderer Hubert Granice as Dale posts about Edith Wharton’s “The Bolted Door.”

Hanne at Reading on Cloud 9 read Alice Adams’ “The Last Lovely City” http://readingoncloud9.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/lastlovelycity/

For my part, I was blown away by “The Things” by Peter Watts. https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-things-by-peter-watts/

Katherine at The Writerly Reader read Katherine Dunn’s story “Allieshttp://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/deal-me-in-week-6-allies/

Katherine Dunn is also author of the novel “Geek Love.” (THAT’s where you’ve heard that name before) 🙂


That’s it for this week. Until next time – happy reading!

Deal Me In 2014 – Week 3 Wrap-Up


Below are links to the new “Deal Me In 2014” reading challenge posts that I’ve found since my last update. Most are story #3 but participants are “permitted”/expected to read at their own pace. If I’ve overlooked a post by you, please share a link in the comments, and I’ll update the body of the post later to include it, otherwise I’ll just include the link in next week’s wrap-up post.

I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s stories and in some cases the curious coincidence of which story the luck of the draw has led them too. This latter is a fun part of the challenge for me. 🙂 I’ve also loved seeing the unique playing card pics with some posts. Keep them coming! Lastly, I hope all the participants will take a few minutes to check on what others have read and leave a comment or “like” their posts as well.

Returning Reader write’s about Uwem Akpan’s “An Ex-Mas Feast”

Dale at Mirror with Clouds read Mark Twain’s “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg”

James at Ready When You Are, C.B. wrote about two stories, Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question” and Will Shetterly’s “The Sages of Elsewhere” (in James’ variant of Deal Me In, he’s reading two stories at a time and then challenging himself to find a link or connection between the two – great idea!)

Hanne at Reading on Cloud 9 shares Isaac Babel’s “Guy de Maupassant”

Kate at The Writerly Reader posted about “The Magician of Karakosk” by Peter S. Beagle

Jay at Bibliophilopolis (that’s me!) read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Christmas Tree and the Wedding”