Brightword (excerpt)

Kimberly Burwick

Toward rip current the boy loadshis spirit, ties crabs to rakes,sails bones and snails toward Spainin rubber boots and rash guardrunning left and worming where earthwill allow; it is a different darewhen he taunts the sea to last,rooted in its benthic hum—on his knees he tells me whoand what has left the world

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Kimberly Burwick was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. Burwick earned her BA in Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her MFA in Poetry from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is the author of five books of poetry including her most recent collections: Brightword (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2019) and Custody of the Eyes (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017). She teaches at Colby-Sawyer College and lives in Meriden, New Hampshire.

Brightword is a stunning lyric meditation forged under the threat of child loss. Her son’s congenital heart condition renders Burwick’s daily ongoings defined by fear and joy, each increasing each. The young boy speaks, he plays, he grows, but ‘nothing yet enters our eyes as answers.’ When such pain funnels through the mind of a poet this masterful, what the world receives is nothing less than a song asking us to behold each other, and our very own children, as creatures who might not wake tomorrow. Transformation is often this terrifying. Yet throughout it all, the child lives in a brightward way, beseeching-without-beseeching his mother—and you, reader—to risk the same.”
—Katie Ford, author of If You Have to Go

“Burwick’s Brightword takes its name from a line by Paul Celan—‘Near, in the aorta’s-arch, / in the bright blood: / the brightword’—and the whole collection feels inflected by that poet, that bright blood.  Here, ‘white friction, snow more specific /  than snow’ Burwick’s singular ear is matched only by her singular spirit; there is a grace in these poems few of us will ever know.”
—Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf

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