Beautiful in the Mouth

Beautiful in the Mouth was selected by Thomas Lux as winner of BOA’s A. Poulin, Jr., Poetry Prize and it debuted in the top ten on the Poetry Foundation bestseller list. In it, Kuipers combines frank sensuality with sincere emotion, yielding poems that travel from New York City to the American West on a exploration of love and loss. Set against both literal and figurative geography—the empty bedroom of a dead child, a clear-cut hillside outside a logging town—these poems examine how loss transforms our most unwilling landscapes.

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These soulful poems travel the landscape of the body, desire, loss, and love's conflicted ecstasies. From wilderness to big cities, coastlines to dive bars, nothing goes unnoticed or uncelebrated, down to the faded roses on the motel wallpaper. Kuipers' voice haunts, indelible with mourning, grace, and an elegant wisdom. This is a poet beautiful in the mouth.

Dorianne Laux

Brooklyn parties and Montana creeks. Merle Haggard and girls' soccer teams. Hurricanes and gullies, eviction notices and women's shoes. These are a few of the disparate things that make up Kuipers' landscapes of love, unrest and womanhood—familiar American landscapes here made eerily, winningly unfamiliar. There's a lyric glow, a breadth of feeling, and a frank sensuality to this book that feels like the past pushing into the future.

Daisy Fried

These are poems with an unmistakable sense of adventure. They attempt large themes, mixing the erotic with landscape and memory. Keetje Kuipers writes about subjects as different as Memorial Day, a soccer team, and a Northwestern spring. But the real adventures here are not just in theme. They are also in tone, craft, and voice. This is a memorable first collection.

Eavan Boland

I was immediately struck by the boldness of imagination, the strange cadences, and wild music of these poems. We should be glad that young poets like Keetje Kuipers are making their voices heard not by tearing up the old language but by making the old language new.

Thomas Lux

Kuipers is a “traditional poet” with respect to her unwavering focus on craft; the engine powering her verse is tight word choice that simultaneously conjures up tangible, living objects and powerful emotional resonance... pitch-perfect poems about topics that are expected in a poetry collection, but that are crafted so well that they transcend cliché to flower into these plainly beautiful chunks of text.

The Rumpus

The poems move like ghosts themselves: disappearing into walls, circling back, appearing for a moment to be captured, then evaporating into thin air. Kuipers pins moments onto the page with the care of an etymologist collecting rare specimens. Her poems are at once visceral and cosmic, 'a wave as well as a particle.'

ForeWord Reviews

The place of her poems... is truly the embodied experience in the larger world. She douses us in imagery that we can voice in our mouths and feel under our fingers.

Midtown Review

Never before have I read a collection of poetry in which nearly every poem echoes my own thoughts and misgivings on what it means to be a woman, to be in or out of love, to grapple with mortality, to finally embrace the volatile nature of the self, or to deal with ‘the consequences/ of happiness.’ This is an intriguing collection that deserves your heart’s attention. I fell in love. I hope you do, too.

American Microreviews and Interviews

The poems in BEAUTIFUL IN THE MOUTH mostly identify themselves within a poetic register that is more tangible, emotionally sincere, linguistically straightforward and sensuous than that of the experimental lyric... Kuipers' is a poetry that demonstrates how instabilities in the contested space between lyric and narrative conventions can yield poems that teeter and slip between location and dislocation, language and silence, past and present, presence and absence.

Tar River Poetry

I have no reservations at all with BEAUTIFUL IN THE MOUTH or the poet behind it: if my praise seems even too encouraging for an unbiased review, just know that this is possibly the best book of original poetry that I've encountered since I first began reviewing books in 1998. Perhaps it is because Kuipers as a poet is much like myself in her foci of intimate affairs and broad natural landscapes, or perhaps it is because she is so skillful in crafting poems that tell stories or minister to our emotions honestly and she can do so with an impressive economy of words. She has simply impressed me.

CutBank Literary Magazine


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Book cover image, “Calla Lily, ‘Sunshine,'” by William Rugen.

Book cover design by Sandy Knight.