Eyewear is very honoured and pleased to welcome D. Nurkse (pictured) this Friday. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including The Border Kingdom, Burnt Island, and The Fall (Alfred Knopf, New York, 2005, and 2002), Leaving Xaia and The Rules of Paradise (Four Way Books, New York, 2002 and 2001), Voices over Water (Graywolf Press, 1993/Four Way Books 1996), Staggered Lights (Owl Creek Press, 1990), Shadow Wars (Hanging Loose Press, 1988), and Isolation in Action (State Street Press, 1988). His poems have appeared in some of the best places for poems to appear, like The New Yorker, Poetry, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Wales, The American Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review - and dare I say Nthposition.
Nurkse has written extensively on human rights, on repression and children in Haiti, on the impact of apartheid on children, and on the effects of maternal mortality in Africa. He worked professionally for Defence for Children International, and was a consultant to Unicef and to organizations that serve and advocate for refugees. He has been involved with Amnesty International for thirty-five years.
Poetry awards include a 2007 Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1984 and 1995 fellowships from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, a 1993 Whiting Writers Award, a Tanne Foundation grant, two awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Bess Hokin and Frederick Bock prizes from The Poetry Foundation.
Nurkse has taught poetry in Master of Fine Arts programs at Brooklyn College, Stonecoast, and Sarah Lawrence College, where he works currently. He taught writing for many years at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He has lived in Europe and Latin America and is now based in Brooklyn, New York.
Over the last few years, it's meant a lot for me to be able to publish some of his powerful, beautifully-crafted, and brave poems. He reads in London (UK) June 20, 2007, for Poetry London, at Foyles, in The Gallery, at 6.30 pm. Do go and hear the man himself.
We dial a recording
and order Vitamin K,
Cipro, twin masks.
Shunted between prompts,
we stare at each other
with deep longing,
drumming our fingers
while the line grows faint.
We borrow a Glock and wrap it
in a Chamois cloth and lock
the bullets in a separate drawer--
where to hang the key?
We stockpile Poland Spring
under our bedstead
and feel that bulk
nullify the give
when we make love.
Huddled before the news,
we touch the screen--
our bombs rain on Kandahar--
we can’t feel them:
just a thrum, the pulse,
a film of dust, a red glow
shining through our nails.
We saw it
and can’t stop watching:
as if the plane entered the eye
and it was the mind
that began burning
with such a stubborn flame.
We saw the bodies jump
and couldn’t break their fall--
now they wait so gracefully
in midair, holding hands.
poem by D. Nurkse
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