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THE PERFORMANCE OF BECOMING HUMAN

Daniel Borzutzky

On the side of the highway a thousand refugees step off a school bus and into a sun that can only be described as “blazing.”

The rabbi points to the line the refugees step over and says: “That’s where the country begins.”

This reminds me of Uncle Antonio. He would have died had his tortured body not been traded to another country for minerals.

Made that up.

This is a story about diplomatic protections.

Read rest of poem 

Find excerpts from all of the nominees here

According to the interview with Borzutsky up at the National Book Award website, Borzutsky says that among other things:
I was thinking about immigrants, refugees and workers in the US and abroad who give up their lives to survive in economies that exploit them and make them invisible.
And I was thinking about bureaucracies and the abuse of data and fake mathematical measures to justify the destruction of real people’s lives.