Leigh Harrison's book
Published by Cross-Cultural Communications
Literary Editions (New York/Crakow, 1999)
Available at Barnes & Noble
Hard cover (ISBN 0-89304-588-8) $15.00
Softcover (ISBN 0-89304-589-6) $7.50
Meditative, lyrical, sensual, elegant, these poems translate their music into the vernacular of grief and love. “I am learning to leave things undone,” writes Harrison, as her metaphors come alive. In the remarkable elegiac sequence for her father, she transforms photographs into the beloved parent she revives within herself. This is a strong first collection, finely crafted by a true poet.
Leigh Harrison is what poetry is supposed to be. She doesn’t just write her poems, but paints them with charm and insight, erudition, and compassion.
Lyrical and meditative by turns, Leigh Harrison’s poems sing of “what is past, or passing, or to come,” to anyone with an ear for music and an eye for the telling detail.
Lying end to end, a Moëbius strip
of hearts intent on conquest,
our sheets are rumpled,
dewy with summer sweat,
the musky nectar of seduction,
liberated by this lusty communion.
Here only honeyed flesh
laps at the shores of our need,
fuses with our unconscious,
fondles the dream,
spills its creamy center
like candied bonbons,
just as plum-colored desire
surges and breaks, a wave
on our dark hopes,
our inchoate songs.
Wound like a melody
into the tangled flame of hair,
a coiled mass of yearning
silently spelling their joy.
Eyes flare with memories
sweet as heliotrope,
dangerous as an illicit embrace,
then plunge into the past
where Dali timepieces
melt at the horizon
along with ancient fears.
Like a Klein bottle
whose inside becomes its outside,
we are bent into our love,
losing our beginnings and endings,
becoming one surface,
a tumult of rose petals,
Author of 13 poetry collections
Critic and translator
"Our Harps Upon the Willows"
Oh, sprawling hussy of a city,
straddling Ol' Man River with meaty thighs,
wanton wench splayed out on the bayou,
eyes wild from alligator feeding-frenzies,
lips red as blood, sweet as honeysuckle
spilling on white ruffled petticoats
of whores that once strutted where
Storyville dangled lace-curtained dreams
before gentlemen in the parlors...sensual,
serene as bon jour from magnolia-draped
plantation maids in hoop skirts, abandoned
as a romp in the Louisiana backwoods
with a Cajun band, dirty as muddy water
filled with tangy mudbugs, sparked
to the quick with gris-gris or the mustard
of sheer nerve...ready with a laugh,
a smile, yet masked, somehow hesitant
to reveal all those dusky charms at once,
teasing the eye with the Vieux Carre's curve
of river-bent shoulder, a sassy, drawling
Venus rising from the steamy delta,
apricot-lipped concubine of the sun,
swooning in burnt orange daylight,
groggy with last night's lovemaking
among clarinets and tenor saxes --
oh, N'Orlins, you are ever the lady,
a demitasse of café au lait at your hand,
sugared beignets dusting your strawberry
mouth — but I have seen the juices
of crispy gator-on-a-stick
drip from your lush lips
like watermelon wine.
If Life's the distillation
when spirit conquers rust,
and Time's the conversation
between our flesh and dust —
is Love sweet exultation
upon each moment's birth,
and Death but consummation
between our bones and earth?
Three sample poems from this book appear below the reviews.
"Our Harps Upon The Willows"
Click book for more information
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Click to hear Leigh read:
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There is also an audio version of this book. The spoken-word CD was released by WordCrew.org, based
on the poetry collection originally published by Cross-Cultural Communications Literary Editions.