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Showing posts from October, 2013

Review: D. Nurkse's Voices Over Water

D. Nurkse is an American poet who is relatively unknown to British readers. With the publication by the enterprising CB Editions of Voices Over Water, his second collection, that looks set to change. Charting the lives of a married couple and their emigration from Estonia to Canada in the early twentieth century, it is an oddly gripping read; each page furthering a narrative in which the minutiae of a traditional rural life are caught against a backdrop of violence, war and famine.

This interplay of the personal and the historical is particularly apparent in eye-catching similes. In “Slow Summer”, for example, which views prolonged conflict through the haze of a humid August, Estonia’s borders are seen to “tangle like our bodies / in love”, while in “Plains”, vast silence is “like a strong arm” encircling the narrator’s wife. Yet these rhetorical flourishes are sparingly deployed. Rather, it is plain diction, deft narrative pacing, and an insistent yet unobtrusive musica…