Cleveland State University

Poetry Center

Kiss, Kiss
poems by Linda Lee Harper

Using the South’s lush landscapes—a Carolina lake retreat, a grove of magnolia trees—as their settings, these poems, in a crisp and accessible voice, celebrate family, talk frankly about loss, desire, and healing, mourn for those no longer with us, and find, in the mundane, that which is truly marvelous and transcendent. Linda Lee Harper’s latest book is a vital contribution to the literature of a distinctly 21st-century, easily recognizable South. Why these poems? Writes Harper, “The sun will burn itself out / and the only thing in a hurry / is me, painting it all in // as fast as I can/before the sun blinks / and day vanishes almost / like an image on plasma screens // failing to erase completely, digital / ghost, visual echo, intaglio, light.”

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Front Porch Review: http://www.frontporchjournal.com/issue150_review_harper.asp

 


 

from Butterfly Bush
buddleia davidii . . . heavenly scent
Naturally, this happens in South Carolina.
That bush, it’s on fire, my god, she thinks.
It’s God, like a customer service representative,
finally answering her call, finally after
she’s been on hold, like Moses, for years. . . .
Then the fire lifts; small tufts of light
rise away, flutter to the next
summer lilac purpling the way
it always does this time of year,
yellow butterflies hiccupping
through air as beautifully
as answered prayers believers
never doubt, to settle in a mixed shrub
border or nearby a window which opens
to skies desirably blue and inconstant.

The poems in Kiss, Kiss aspire, with feistiness and wit, to isolate, reclaim, memorialize, and reexamine those significant but ordinary longings, daydreams, people, and locations we too often take for granted: a pheasant hunt, a bowl of oranges, a trip to a waffle house, “the fish shuddering / at the end of the neighbor’s/nylon line,” “yellow butterflies hiccupping/through air as beautifully/as answered prayers,” and “Aunt Avis, silly goose of an aunt, / doing bicycles on our bed to show us / how to speed into heaven.” Linda Lee Harper’s latest book is a vital contribution to the literature of a distinctly 21st-century, easily recognizable South. Why these poems? Writes Harper, “The sun will burn itself out / and the only thing in a hurry / is me, painting it all in // as fast as I can / before the sun blinks / and day vanishes almost / like an image on plasma screens // failing to erase completely, digital / ghost, visual echo, intaglio, light.”

 


 

“Reading Kiss, Kiss is like waking up in a strange bed with a new tattoo. These poems ride close to the skin, and generate their own heat. Linda Lee Harper takes us from the haunting familiarity of ‘Summer, humid as an old aunt’s apartment when she boils the fat out of ham,’ to the electric pleasure of ‘the beautiful boys on the avenue, / parading, winking hips at my hips.’ It’s as if Harper has reclaimed all of the memories we’ve hidden beneath our mattresses, and repopulated them in a world that is at once alien and intimate. These are poems that demand a visceral response. Thankfully for the reader, they will not wash off.”
—Mary Biddinger, author of Prairie Fever and editor of Barn Owl Review

“To read Linda Lee Harper’s Kiss, Kiss is to escape into another striking and memorable world, while never feeling as if you’ve completely left the familiar behind. Her poems are filled with the imagery of ordinary life, and yet these images are often slightly off-kilter and unexpected, so what emerges in these poems is honest, and sometimes uncomfortable. Harper’s poems remind us of our common desire to build connections among ourselves, to honor the singularity of the places we come from and the quirks of the people we love.”
—Margot Schilpp, author of Laws of My Nature

About the Author:
Linda Lee Harper divides her time between Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia. Born in Cincinnati and educated at the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her M.F.A. in Poetry, she is the author of five poetry chapbooks and one previous full-length collection, Toward Desire (Word Works, 1996), winner of the 1995 Washington Prize for Poetry. Her poems have previously appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Rattle, Seneca Review, and Southern Humanities Review, and have been recognized with fellowship residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. For more information on this poet, visit the author’s website at www.LindaLeeHarper.com.

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