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Bourke was born in Germany but has lived for much of her life in Galway, Ireland. She studied German Literature and History of Art at the University of Munich. She has had five volumes of her own work published, as well as publications as editor and translator. She is a member of Aosdána. She was editor of the Writing in the West supplement of the Connacht Tribune for six years, and for over a decade has participated in the Galway Writer's Workshop. She lectures on contemporary Irish poetry in Austria, Hungary, Germany, the United States and Ireland. As of 2011, she is editing a German translation of a collection of the poet Friedrich Hölderlin.
- Gonella, Galway, Salmon Publishing, 1985, with drawings by Jay Murphy.
- Litany for the Pig, Salmon Publishing, 1989.
- Spring in Henry Street, Dublin, Dedalus, 1996
- In Green Ink/Mit Gruner Tinte (editor), 1996.
- Travels With Gandolfo, Dedalus, 2000.
- Winter on White Paper by Elisabeth Borchers (as translator), 2002.
- The Latitude of Naples, Dedalus, 2005.
- Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland, (edited with Borbála Faragó, Dedalus Press, 2010.
- Piano, Dedalus, 2011.