Of Christopher Bursk’s poetry, Joel Brouwer in The New York Times Book Review writes, “If you’re looking for skeptical poststructuralist experiments with language’s unstable elements, look elsewhere. Bursk has bottomless faith in language and its capacities to enlighten and delight.” Bursk’s Selected Poems reveal their author’s trust in those odd little bits of breath we call vowels and consonants to engage the world.
Drawing on his experience as a father and grandfather, teacher and prison counselor, pacifist and protestor, Bursk sets great store in the potential of parts of speech to challenge and heal, puzzle and provoke. For him words are “places of comfort, places of justice,” whether they are exploring the painful confusions of childhood and sexuality; witnessing to the violations of spirit and body in the Congo or on the cellblock; examining the challenges of classroom, picket line, nursery or hospital ward; confronting the difficulties of living in the past and in the here and now.
Bursk in his work in the corrections system helped those incarcerated to trust that something good comes of facing, honestly and bravely, both one’s limits and one’s possibilities. In his poetry he asks the same of himself. In both cases this honesty and courage is made possible by a faith that words, though they may test us, will not let us down.
A recipient of NEA, Guggenheim, and Pew fellowships, Christopher Bursk is the author of eleven books, including The Infatuations and Infidelities of Pronoun, Cell Count, and The Improbable Swervings of Atoms, winner of the Donald Hall prize in Poetry from AWP. His poems have won the Patterson Prize, the Green Rose Prize, Another Chicago Magazine Award, 49th Parallel Award from Bellingham Review, New Letters Prize in Poetry, and the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Bursk has taught at Bucks County Community College for over forty years. Most importantly, he is the grandfather of six.
Christopher Bursk: Selected Poems includes choice selections from the eleven books to his credit, plus a special new poem. The book is available in print-on-demand and Kindle ebook formats through the press web catalog (www.futurecycle.org)