The Heart Room by Libby Kurz
As a surgical nurse, Libby Kurz has held human hearts in her hands. If a more suitable job for a poet could be invented, I couldn’t imagine it. The human heart— the want-muscle, the first knot of desire, the very source book— Kurz writes, “it’s like listening/ to music in your hand.” And it’s not just the music, it’s the silence. It’s placing a cold heart into the warm body and waiting for a body to restart, it’s “the way light would hit a thing/ and leave darkness on the other side.” Kurz muses not only on the heart separated from the body, but also on the heart in its proper room—the common blockages in marriage and family, the adrenaline rush of love, the small awakenings and skipped beats in the rhythms of adult life. Who do you trust to hold your heart? By the end of this collection, I feel perfectly comfortable with my heart in this talented new poet’s hands.
–Frank Montesonti, author of Arts Grant (2017 Midwest Chapbook Award, GreenTower Press) and Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope (2011 Barrow Street Poetry Prize, Barrow Street)
“Pliable cores of muscle and spark”—who would know the human engine better than the gifted nurse and poet who penned those words? In The Heart Room, Libby Kurz gives us an intimate body of words that probes the depths of suffering—physical and relational–with raw beauty and wisdom. “Compressions” is astonishing.
–Suzanne Underwood Rhodes, author of Hungry Foxes (Aldrich Press) and A Welcome Shore (Canon Press)
Never with clinical detachment but instead through the empathetic scope of poetry, Libby Kurz carefully examines the moments that give proof of the human “instinct/ …to survive.” After witnessing so many of the assaults of illness and aging on the body, after natural calamities, through the daily regimens of scrabbling for love and subsistence, the poet asks– How does one hold a heart? “…[L]ike cupping a bird/ in your hands” before “its wings/ spread widely/ into the open sky,/ pumping the air/ like blood.” In the end, she manages to declare, “The human heart/ is the poem.”
–Luisa A. Igloria, author of The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal) and Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press)
**book cover designed by Aaron McCall
**photograph by Bree Card Photography