The Fall

The Fall

by D. Nurkse
     
 

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In this elegant collection, D. Nurkse elegizes a lost father, a foreshortened childhood, and
a young marriage. From the drenched lawns of suburbia to the streets of Brooklyn, he delivers up the small but crucial epiphanies that propel an American coming-of-age and chronicles the development of a tender yet exacting consciousness. As the diversions of childhood…  See more details below

Overview

In this elegant collection, D. Nurkse elegizes a lost father, a foreshortened childhood, and
a young marriage. From the drenched lawns of suburbia to the streets of Brooklyn, he delivers up the small but crucial epiphanies that propel an American coming-of-age and chronicles the development of a tender yet exacting consciousness. As the diversions of childhood prefigure the heartbreak of adulthood, Nurkse captures the exquisite sadness of each small “fall” that carries us further from our early innocence. In the book’s final section, the poet turns to face mortality with a series of stirring poems about illness in midlife. Throughout, Nurkse celebrates the sheer strangeness of our perceptions in a language that is both astute and surpassingly lyrical.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The official poet laureate of Brooklyn, Nurkse (The Rules of Paradise) has long held a small but loyal readership for his short, quiet poems about dreams, griefs, childhood recollections and surprising urban scenes. This eighth book is his first from a major trade press. It puts the simplicities, short lines and slight surrealisms Nurkse has long used into the work of mourning: most of the poems concern Nurkse's late father, whom he recalls sometimes as a voice from his childhood, sometimes in his last years, and sometimes as a presence from beyond the grave. Often beginning as anecdotes, many slow-paced poems here coalesce around some totemic object or common noun: "shadow," "wind," "dawn," "stone," "body." These tactics suggest, at various points, Robert Bly, Charles Simic and Stanley Kunitz as they were in the late 1960s and '70s; their earlier styles seem closer to Nurkse than Nurkse is to most work now. Sometimes (as with Simic) Nurkse conjures up stark symbolic street corners for his allegories of loss; at other times, they converge at "an imaginary fixed point in Flatbush or Central Brooklyn." Though he is most original when least dependent on autobiography, Nurkse concludes with a series of deeply sad poems set in a hospital, or hospitals, where the dramas of serious illness take place, "night after night." Nurkse's moving if sometimes stolid poems of memory also include a Schwinn bicycle, a "First Date" and subsequent romances, and several games of baseball: playing "Left Field," Nurkse's speaker "was proudest of my skill at standing alone in the darkness." (Sept.) Forecast: While offering few surprises, these solid poems of mourning should find their audience, especially if displayed with grief- and illness-related nonfiction. Look for a few prize nominations that will work to acknowledge Nurkse's steady, lower-profile output along with this title. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A National Endowment Fellowship recipient and Whiting Writers Award winner, Nurkse offers coming-of-age poems in this, his eighth collection. The topics include baseball, first love, sex, the early death of a parent, illness, marriage, and divorce. In his poems about childhood, Nurkse writes with a kind of innocence: "We said last rites/ for a fleck of mica." In "The Dog," he captures that sense of equality and camaraderie children often feel for their pets: "At twilight we walk each other/ in the snowy park./ The leash yanks us apart./ Our trails mix crazily./ Haven't we always traveled/ in a series of lunges/ away from a missing center?" Nurkse's style is simple, almost conversational, yet underneath the words, the reader senses great emotion especially in the poems that recall his father's illness and early death. The final poems record the poet's own serious illness while evoking youthful visits to his father's sickroom: "Now you are here/ at the other end of my life/ and you are the silence in the room,/ the light sweeping from wall to wall,/ fever itself, no longer just my father." These well-crafted poems are recommended for most collections.-Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Nurkse, former poet laureate of Brooklyn, excels at conveying . . . [a] kind of unaccompanied loneliness . . . [He] soberly relates the cruelties of the world.”
–Time Out New York
“D. Nurkse’s The Fall features three highly personal sequences of poems concerning death, love, and illness. Their drama and the universality of their themes draw us in . . . The Fall–mystical, mesmerizing, elegant–is a cat’s eye of a collection.”
–Bill Christophersen, Poetry
“D. Nurkse, despite his modesty, seems to be weaving poetry’s various movements towards a cohesive zenith, which takes him beyond characterization. He may be a contemporary poet, but his words will live beyond him.”
–Anne Hamilton, Memphis Commercial Appeal
“A collection of exquisitely-shaped poems highlighted by the poet’s gift for delicate yet piercing epiphanies.”
–Dennis Loy Johnson, Athens Banner-Herald
“Nurkse’s style is simple, almost conversational, yet underneath the words, the reader senses great emotion.”
–Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307523365
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/25/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Red-And-Silver Schwinn
I would never learn.
She would never love me.
When I wriggled on that cruel seat
a blind force--perhaps hope--
smashed me into the sprinkler system.
Even when I wheeled it,
the bike jack-knifed.
It seemed the fall
was planned within me.
Polite with rage
I refused trainer wheels.
I carried the frame tenderly
over newly sodded lawns.
Once it was my burden
there was nowhere we could not go.
Sunlight
I trained a magnifying glass
on the ant with the crumb
and he stepped away
from the pool of light.
I held the beam
wherever he was going.
At once he shriveled
to a tiny black line
whose ends rose slowly
to meet each other.
I aimed at my hand
and sensed that fire
infinitely distant, close,
then inside me:
when I dropped the lens
I felt no comfort
and called my father's name.

Northbound
A bell tolled six times
on an island in the fog
and my father turned toward it.
Angelus or a signal?
Where the reefs must be,
a buoy chimed at random.
How to row toward a voice
once it has fallen silent?
He listened tight-lipped:
bitterns, gagging laughter,
slap and hiss of Castine,
creaking oars, my crying.
A white hand cupped us
so we faced each other
entirely inside the mind.
Then he began stroking powerfully,
a vein swelled on his forehead,
his blue knuckles rose like pistons,
even I could sense us circle
under the spell of his right arm,
and he lost himself counting
in his exile's language--
twenty, a thousand, as if our home
lay beyond those enormousnumbers.

Copyright© 2002 by D. Nurkse

Author Biography:

Meet the Author

D. Nurkse is the author of seven books of poetry. He has received the Whiting Writers’ Award, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Tanne Foundation award, and the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry. He has also written widely on human rights.


From the Hardcover edition.

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