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Burnt Island Paperback – May 16, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375710809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375710803
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,459,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The poems of this eighth collection center on its vivid title - sometimes a metaphorical September 11â€"era Manhattan, sometimes a real place where older-and-wiser lovers retreat to sift themselves, and their relationship, from the ashes. When the poems fail, they fail badly: "I made friends/ with a dead sparrow/ I found on the sidewalk," for example, opens "Night Flight." But when they work, Nurkse's simple observations and images open out into a gloriously pulp defamiliarization. "Space Marriage" begins "Our starship blew up/ between Alpha Centaur/ and the Second Quadrant/ but we could not die." The terrific "Nine Crows" ("Remember our bright eyes?/ Our sarcastic weariness?") inaugurates a series of poems where flora and fauna perform, with a kind of disdainful bravura, a panoply of human fears and faiblesses. Taken as a whole, the book moves through its various perspectives with more than enough assurance to carry one past the numerous weaker sections, making this the collection to bring Brooklyn's former poet laureate wider acclaim. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

D. Nurkse is the author of eight books of poetry. He has received the Whiting Writers’ Award, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two grants from the New York State Foundation for the Arts, and other awards. He has also written widely on human rights.


D. Nurkse’s The Fall is available in Knopf paperback.


From the Hardcover edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hal Sirowitz on January 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For those who prefer to look on the 9/11 tragedy in memoriam and not as a platform for polemics, D. Nurkse's new book, 'Burnt Island' will fulfill that need. And yet 9/11 is only one part of this engrossing book. In that section he pays homage to the victims by showing how their ties to the living can never be broken. Here's an example from the poem, 'October Rendezvous'. 'We saw the bodies jump/ and couldn't break their fall -/ now they wait so gracefully/ in midair, holding hands.' I haven't read any other poet who can make jumping out of a burning building an act of love. In another great poem, 'Searchers,' the men, who are looking for the bodies among the rubble, echo the voices of the dead. 'But who will hide from us?/ Who will keep digging for us/ here in the cloud of ashes?' He makes the line between death and life more transparent. In the last section of the book he takes us inside the minds of other life forms - finches, spiders, ants, etc. He continues to speak for those without language. Anyone who succeeds at writing a poem in a squid's voice deserves to be read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Raucher on July 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
(Dennis read as part of the Writer's Voice visiting author series on November 30, 2007. This is from my spoken introduction...)

The poems in "Burnt Island" give us a sense of aloneness amongst fellow travelers, whether they be family or strangers in the midst of a shared disaster, a shared experience of any kind. He gets how people absorb the feelings and emotions of others, how indelibly we are imprinted by those around us, those who have come before us, and how we will affect those that follow. In his poems of devastation, whether man made or natural, he manages the right balance of poetic distance and human engagement. The language is vivid with both violence and beauty in the words. In that, he has the ability to communicate unbearable pain, yet urge the reader on.

In desolation and melancholy, he finds wonder; always sensual, no matter how abstract his images may get, the poems remain rooted in the senses. Dennis' places us in the moment, using the sound of words as much as their literal meaning.

His poems show how no matter how advanced we think we are, how very near we are to the smallest creature, the most seemingly insignificant plant life. And how, reckoning that, we may become enriched, aware of the fragility of existence, and truly more connected to the essence of our own being
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