Saturday, 4 June 2011

D Nurkse

There should, of course, be a literary journal with a vast readership that reviews every single CBe publication and tells its readers their lives are not worth living if they don’t buy these books. In the absence of that, it’s a lottery, and 99 per cent of the books I send out for review end up, I guess, propping up the wobbly desks of literary editors or on the new-&-used pages of Amazon. But today the sun is shining and the Guardian pays attention to D. Nurkse’s Voices over Water:

‘Nearly all the poems that make up this narrative collection are written in the voices of a married couple born in Estonia who, sometime after the Russian revolution, leave for a new life in an isolated region of western Canada. The opening monologues, set in Europe, explore the rhythms of a traditional life disrupted more and more brutally by wider political events. These poems frequently swerve into the frightening and mysterious; in “The Hidden Fighters” the couple lose their way travelling through heavy forest – “Then we looked and saw the carcasses of butchered deer / lashed to the treetops and painted chalk white / like clumps of snow.” Nurkse's remarkable devotion to the particular and sensitivity to place make these poems compelling. The book reaches its poignant finale through lovingly conjured attention to detail, when one of the couple’s grandchildren attempts to connect with a fragmented inheritance: “All there is from that world is a locket / showing the infant Mozart playing silence / on a tiny clavichord, behind cracked glass.”’ (Charles Bainbridge)

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