New Poetry, October Reading Period Selection
These tightly wound lyrics examine the dark history of a dictatorship through the lens of motherhood while invoking the pastoral as a metaphor for loss, and the overwhelming human will to survive what has scarified us. By exposing the named and nameless stolen babies of Franco’s long regime, Burwick is able to tap into personal and universal fears of rearing children in the face of violence, forgery, and absolutism.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“These intense lyric poems weave the love of a mother for her young son with the horror of the stolen babies of Franco’s Spain. Burwick’s unflinching eye walks us through landscapes of greed and brutality.”—Anne Marie Macari
“If ‘beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,’ as Rilke would have us believe, then I must think terror is also the advent of beauty, please, God, let it be so. Kimberly Burwick’s collection, a meditation for the 300,000 stolen infants under Franco’s program, prays this prayer with each delicate, wrenching line that reaches toward these erased souls even as the poet also reaches for the impossible birth of her own son. Custody of the Eyes is not a book of poems; it is a beating heart, bloody in its brave work to face our greatest terror, the beginning of that which makes us each beautifully human.”—Rebecca Gayle Howell
“Kimberly Burwick’s collection Custody of the Eyes focuses beyond a shameful enterprise toward a meditative landscape of compressed insights. Each terse lyric expands into a glossary of measured emotions where nature is a character that emerges and delivers a life-force inherent in the spirit of the poems, and perhaps these realizations are curative. And yet, as the collection evolves, we nod our heads to the final truth: “Because I saw your birth, I am responsible for all the dead.” The encounter with death is monolithic. Burwick’s poems speak to the present and future by acknowledging the past through intriguing images, and unexpected phrases invite us in.”—Yusef Komunyakaa
From the Book:
Like Slate Beneath the Virgin's Bower
In rain we miss the shadblow
and sumac, wide hemlock damask and
warped in its own silver balding,
the way babies of Franco's nuns
must have not died in their swaddle
cloths in the Spanish enclave of Melilla
in Morocco where infants were harvested
like cork oak, or slate beneath virgin's bower.
Like any mother I wait in the green,
slaked by nothing but the visible architecture
of distant November when sounds from the throat
are holy as tiny granite lips returning.