Uche Nduka was born in Nigeria in the 1960s and is bilingual in Igbo and English. His poetic work has also been translated into German, Finnish, Italian, Dutch, and Romanian. After living in Germany and Holland, he moved to the United States in 2007, where he has been teaching and publishing ever since, as well as cultivating a reputation for creative fearlessness and a cadre of unshakable admirers. The Poetry Foundation writes, “Nduka’s work is notable for its surrealist energy and political urgency.”
Nduka uses innovative techniques to challenge the reader while investigating what he calls unexplored linguistic trenches. Instead of repulsion, the reader learns to trust this destabilizing experience, riding with it into vast new perspectives that range in focus from the quotidian assurance of a lover’s embrace to the bilious taste of sudden political violence. Nduka has thrilled readers over numerous splendidly received prose and poetry titles, including eel on reef (2007), Ijele (2012), Nine East (2013), Living in Public (2018), and most recently, 2020’s Facing YouSCISSORWORK.
Uche Nduka’s SCISSORWORK is a piercing adventure through fragmented and recombined political landscapes, shearing and weaving together American and Nigerian histories of resistance through an uncompromising consciousness that is erotically demanding as it is joyfully gratifying. This text does not perform physical “cut-ups” in the method of Brian Gysin, but tears, folds, and layers itself emotionally and thematically into a radical phantasmagoria. The author states, “Surrealism is a continual voyage. It’s an ongoing revelation of inner and outer selves/states. A surreal poem is partly an autonomous channel. Its efficacy derives from the freedom of the spirit and the freedom of the body. The poem is immune to literary, moral, social, nationalistic, and cultural overdetermination.”
People are saying:
“Uche Nduka asks, ‘But how safe are words?’ and then answers his own question: ‘Sometimes you’ve got to squirm or else.’ This collection of prose poetry and lineated verse is both safe and squirmy, life-threatening and life-sustaining, beautifully cracked machinations of language that let all kinds of light (and shadow) in. Each brilliantly idiosyncratic phrase is a star cut from an equally bright firmament. SCISSORWORK indeed. Masterful.”
– Sharon Mesmer (Greetings from My Girlie Leisure Place)
“Imagine Aphrodite as newsvendor whose print envelopes the very edge of love. Uche Nduka’s SCISSORWORK immerses the reader in the ‘quandaries and sublimities’ of lovemaking, a low-tech way to preserve the poetic against a gentrification of the survivalist lifestyle. ‘In the mouth of innuendo,’ the poet posits a ‘narrative of ravishment,’ his, and ours. With ‘chords of pleasure through the arterial library,’ evolutionary intellect confronts the popular escape-hatch of denial and delusion. Cataloged and archived, everything readable, no mere matter of subjective impressions, SCISSORWORK is a rhapsodic evanescence of adulation and diagramless joy! Singing everything, selfishness banished, in ‘a benediction of choruses … waiting to be born,’ Uche Nduka works in the sweet, the sour, and our impermanence.”
– Andrew Levy (Artifice in the Calm Damages)
“There is a rhythmic rapidity to Uche Nduka’s SCISSORWORK, the work of relentlessly cutting at the barrage of sensory data coming at us, leaving the syntax between dense blocks of text and epigrammatic and occasionally even whimsical poems, like paper shapes falling to the ground. And yet, peeking through these poles are hints of a world on fire, of people on the run or attempting defiance, of a restless figure moving through it to salvage an image, the remembrance of a scent, the delight of a touch.”
– Ammiel Alcalay (Memories of Our Future)
About the author:
Uche Nduka, poet and essayist, is the author of 12 volumes of poems, of which the latest are Living in Public (Kristiania, 2018) and Facing You (City Lights, 2020). A NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Poetry, his writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Arabic, German, Turkish, and Romanian. Nduka taught African Literature for seven years at the University of Bremen. He presently lives and teaches in New York City.
Publication date: April 2022