Creative Writing and Literary Arts
Derick Burleson's poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Poetry, and many other journals. He lived and taught English in Rwanda in the two years leading up to the genocide which took place in 1994. A recipient of a 1999 National Endowment for the writing and literature at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and lives with his partner and daughter in Two Rivers, Alaska.
In 1994 the worst
episode of genocide since the Holocaust of the Second World War ravaged
the Central African country of Rwanda. Derick Burleson lived there and
taught at the National University during the two years leading up to the
genocide. The poems in this collection explore the cataclysm in a
variety of forms and voices through the culture, myths, and customs he
absorbed during this time. "Ejo," meaning "yesterday and tomorrow" in
Kinyarwandan, celebrates in language both lyrical and austere the lives
of the friends Burleson made in Rwanda, those who survived to tell their
own stories, and those whose voices were silenced.
| ||Never Night|
Should we have stayed at home, wherever that may be?" a traveler writes
in a notebook at the end of Elizabeth Bishop's "Questions of Travel."
The poems in Never Night ask the same question as they travel textual
geographies from wheat farm to boreal forest, from a cave become fallout
shelter to a spy satellite's view of a wrecked oil tanker, from a gold
mine's tailings to a child burying a dead guinea pig. Whether
investigating a derailed train, a two-headed moose fetus or a melting
glacier, these poems reveal wounded earth giving birth to shimmering
form, death held at bay without artifice in the meditations of a child's
"The sense-drenched offerings in MELT once again cement Derick
Burleson's role as unflinching witness, a master spinner of huge tales
in tiny spaces. The insistent lyrical current that pulses through these
deftly-forged stanzas create a music that will immediately enthrall and
captivate the reader. Burleson is a startlingly good poet who burns down
borders with every word."—Patricia Smith
This, his fourth book,
was built from a list of 600 words commonly used in the English language
according to the frequency with which they appear in printed material.
This word list was created by Dr. Edward Fry in the mid 1990s. Derick
made each poem from this word list, in the order in which the words were
presented on the list, a technique never been used before in the
writing of a book of poems.