A collection of poems to transport the reader on a literary journey of discovery through loss, love, family dispersion, and immigration. These poems drip with an alchemical admixture of tenderness, violence, despair, and hope, as testament to our resilience.
The poems in Chike Nzerue's ARCHITECTURE OF DUST lance veins on pages with dialects of grief and love, through the prism of an immigrant singing America’s gifts, the burden of its melting pot, disrupted kinships, race, and a reckoning of what it means to be a son, father, doctor, and citizen.
Central to this collection is the idea of poetry as both music and vehicle to transport the reader from the streets of Nashville to London, to the lights of Las Vegas, skirting the nebulous notion of home, as the poems sweep from the edge of the Mojave Desert to Kano, Nigeria, at the fringe of the Sahara Desert. Although these worlds seem disparate, the poems reveal these worlds beautifully as one.
The poems provide an unflinching portrait of colonial violence, cultural and family disruptions, love, racism, and loss, while making innovative leaps of faith with metaphor and language. The poems may seem immediate and contemporary, but still harken to tradition, lyrical insights, and narrative sweeps to shore up the reader’s heart. The poems are an apophatic invitation and invocation of our unspoken common humanity.
“The poems in Chike Nzerue’s Architecture of Dust attend to the senses in the ways only a physician-poet can: that is to say, they blur the boundaries between feeling and intellect, sensation and abstraction, and so forth. The result is a collection that resists the intelligence, as Wallace Stevens exhorts, ‘almost successfully,’ and in doing so, guides readers toward a space of underexplored experiential terrain. Moreover, though Nzerue is a Romantic at heart — nods to Keats abound — he never gives in to that mode’s troubling flourishes or indulgences. Rather, these poems bring us to the edge of reality full of pain, but rather than beautify it, or look away, they invite us to probe the intricacies of strong feeling, revealing its centrality to human feeling and human being.” —John James
“The best of these poems sparkle with arresting images and recall Okigbo’s incantatory power. Nzerue displays versatility as he fashions memory, myth, and history into poems that evoke innocence, nostalgia, and loss.” —Okey Ndibe, author of Foreign Gods, Inc.
“Chike Nzerue is a master smithy of pleasing sonic combinations. ‘. . . of a centurion in the salt wars of abstinence / that covered enough miles to make Pheidippides jealous,’ he writes. I find myself basking in the afterglow of assonant combinations. This book is a pleasure!” —Kyle McCord, author of Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult
“If there were ever a collection that captured so elegiacally one’s interactions with and responses to the intricacies of love, belonging, death, and acceptance, Chike Nzerue’s Architecture of Dust is just that book. Largely written from a physician’s perspective, Nzerue’s poems examine the fragility of our bodies, looking at the death of a sibling, the remorse that follows a misdiagnosis, the often predictable and debilitating effects of middle age, and the harsh realities of cancer. But Nzerue’s talent lies in his ability to move beyond the clinical lens, and whether traversing the speaker’s home continent of Africa, the U.S. Midwest, Las Vegas, or the mazes of the human heart, Architecture of Dust always focuses on what one can do to never let regret linger longer than it needs to. These poems are medicine for a wounded world. Here is our chance to heal.” —Esteban Rodríguez, author of The Valley and Before the Earth Devours Us
Chike Nzerue's poetry and essays have appeared in the Henderson, Nevada, Writer's Bloc 10 anthology, CHEST medical journal, American Journal of Kidney Diseases, and Voices of the Grieving Heart, an anthology of poems about hope, healing, and loss from the COVID pandemic, among others. He is a graduate of Oxford University, and a former professor and clinical dean at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee. He was born in Kano, Nigeria, and is a practicing nephrologist in Las Vegas, Nevada.