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All Its Charms

All Its Charms

by Keetje Kuipers


Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on April 23, 2019

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942683766
Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Series: American Poets Continuum Series , #171
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Keetje Kuipers is the author of three books of poems, all from BOA Editions: Beautiful in the Mouth (2010), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize; The Keys to the Jail (2014); and All Its Charms (2019). Kuipers’ poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in Best American Poetry, Narrative, American Poetry Review, Orion, Prairie Schooner, The Writer’s Almanac, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. She has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow, Bread Loaf’s Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellow, the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, and the recipient of fellowships from the Lucas Artist Residency, the Jentel Artist Residency Foundation, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and PEN Northwest’s Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. Kuipers lives with her wife and daughter on an island in the Salish Sea, where she is a faculty member at Seattle’s Hugo House and Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest.

Read an Excerpt

Landscape with Sage and the Names of My Children

I picked all the flowers, I palmed all the stones.

I dropped the nameless insects onto my tongue

and felt their black wings unfurl. I held the dead

buck by his antlers and dragged him through the sage,

brought my teeth to the tender bridge of ribs and fed

until the glossy maggots overtook me.

I climbed the red rocks robed in their red dust.

I put the earth—all its charms—within me,

into each waiting pocket. Lip and ear.

What will happen when my body can no longer

hold this fragrant salt, its hardened tears,

inside? Let mine into the dirt. The names

I’ve chosen for my children are already fast

across the sky like the ochre feathers that frame

the blackbird’s shrug. There is no such thing

as a scar, no matter how much I want

to be one. Every birth—even the wings

• f the caddis lifting from the river

in a shroud—a momentary hunger.

Glassblower’s Glossary of Flaws and Defects

Small parison, slack and heavy bauble,

I breathed you into being with my want,

my belief in your fragile form I’d thought

to coax to life with pinpricks and prayers.

From my belly’s furnace, I imagined

pulling you whole—beveled, and thinly

gilded with meconium’s sharp-scented glaze.

Within my body’s medicated light,

your molten form grew rivets and grooves, frit

coloring and clinging to your lucent bones,

lengths along which you might someday be touched.

When you refused conjuring, I carried

for months a dullness in my mouth, still not

knowing I had burnt my tongue on desire.

Self-Care at the Playground

The sidewalk grows a golden fur

• f fallen leaves, and on the swings

in the park, a woman sounds

an off-key minor chord, her body

participating in a kind of joy

uncomfortable for the rest of us.

In my pocket, the small screen

waits for me, each page queued

to show me everything I make myself

know, including a man in his car,

his girlfriend in the passenger seat,

the child in the back. Later, I will watch

the bullets empty his body again and again.

I am not important, I repeat

to myself as I pump my legs,

looking up to watch through the sky—

itself a glowing screen—twenty-seven

undulating shades of white—the colors

• f crushed and strewn shells—

as the leaves fall through it

with their messages of red.

The Great Lakes

My wife, the one I thought I’d never have—

because does any of us believe we deserve

to be happy in this life?—lets my daughter paint

her toenails a sloppy silver as my aunt smokes

a second cigarette and pages through photos

• n her phone so I can see how the car looked

after my cousin wrecked it last month

in a past-midnight field near the poultry

processing plant just a half mile from grandma’s

unsold house—high on meth or heroin

• r maybe not high at all but fighting

her hunger—while I pick through this dead

girl’s jewelry just as starved for something

to hold onto as those feckless gulls pecking

the sand a few feet away. The sun is shining

brighter than the gold-plated necklace

I fasten around my neck and swear to wear

forever, and even though scientists are finding

nicotine in the water and oxy in the mussels,

my cousin’s kids are down there at the edge

• f the beach screaming their heads off

with the pure joy of plunging below the surface.

It’s hard not to feel good watching the waves.

But my aunt needs me to believe in the glass

and the blood, and her daughter’s body

a thing unidentifiable, a thing none of us

had really seen in years. She needs me to understand

that her pain is water as far as the eye can see.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Keetje Kuipers’s poems are daring, formally beautiful, and driven by rich imagery and startling ideas.” —Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate, author of Wade in the Water

“Keetje Kuipers’s All Its Charms is one of the finest books of poetry I know. It springs from the land of the American West like a cottonwood tree or a pronghorn calf and shimmers before us. Her exquisite ear makes each poem strike notes of delight that surprise, and her voice beguiles whether speaking to an invisible unbegotten girl, or seeing ‘the nasturtiums sweating on the vine,’ or hearing a father’s ‘tin pan trembling heart.’ Over and over again the poet sings and causes some bristling elegant new thing to appear before us. It is that ancient impossible magic that charms water from stones and makes art endure. Here is a perfect book of poems.” —Steve Scafidi, author of To the Bramble and the Briar

“In All Its Charms , the third volume from this remarkable poet, we enter with serious pleasure into an unfolding tapestry of resourceful and intelligent figuration, her gorgeous language tying together elements of the natural world with the glorious ether of the metaphysical. Connecting body to landscape, seaspawn and seawrack to striations of the uterus, baby to the blossom of milk from her breast, Kuipers is a Lucretius of motherhood and sexuality, seeking consolation not for the limit of death, but from the trials of incarnation, tasting their splendor on skin and tangles of hair emanating from love’s body. Her poetry is a garland of milk petalled down her shirtfront, the page of life she’s written on the body. She makes me feel... She makes me feel like a natural woman.” — Garrett Hongo, author of Coral Road

“I exited All Its Charms begrudgingly, so charmed was I by the world inside its pages. Keetje Kuipers delights in the usually overlooked moments in nature and human nature—the small town drag show, the clear cut landscape with ‘yellow Cat dozers popping up on distant hillsides / like morels to be collected after the first warm days,’ the daughter's spilled juice the speaker wipes with ‘the old plaid boxers of the man I thought I'd marry.’ In these small moments, she locates our big truths. Her vision is original, and her voice—precise, questioning, sensual, wry—is one I'd follow anywhere. This book is a delicious accomplishment.” —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

“Keetje Kuipers’s luminous new collection more than fulfills its title’s promise. Kuipers works powerful lyric magic, transforming bodies— human and animal, living and dead— into rivers, trees, molten glass, angels, ‘a cup of coldening cider.’ Landscapes too undergo metamorphoses, ‘the sidewalk grows a golden fur’; ‘magnolias collapse their heavy bosoms.’ Time itself comes alive, ‘the last fleshy hours of another day ripening…’ In voluptuous detail, Kuipers describes her own pregnancy and motherhood. Her breastmilk is ‘ a sticky flower blooming,’ a nursing bra ‘flapping and fearless, one wing taking flight…’ Even when she’s describing death, her images delight, maggots are ‘glossy’ a sparrow’s heart ‘a jewel hidden in haste.’ An awareness of life’s fragility, of the passage of time, runs through these poems, yet the reader feels the pulse of life’s robust insistence. All Its Charms is a book of ‘plentitude, mass, sweetness contained.’” —Ellen Bass, author of Like a Beggar

“Keetje Kuipers’s collection charms not with flattery, but more like a good friend who cares enough to tell the hand-to-God truth to your face. This flint-eyed but tender honesty comes across in Kuipers’s minute observations of the American landscape as well as of the pleasures and disappointments of the body. The poems in All Its Charms are also bracingly candid about the polarities of parenthood: the movement between joy at new life and fear at the army of small, lurking dangers that threaten it. The language and images may be startling in these pages, but the insights are austere and lay bare a necessary corner of the human world.” —Iain Haley Pollock, author of Ghost, like a Place