In her sixth collection, LION’S PAW, Guggenheim fellow and Four Quartets Prize finalist Kathleen Peirce extends her reach toward the realms of birth and afterlife and finds them liminal places.These are otherworldly poems immersed in earthly intricacies altered by the poet’s intimate gaze, about encounters in the presence of folded velvet, Eden, ice, a sheep’s locks, a wall of glass, each enlarged by loss and faithfulness. To show what it means to create while being created, these poems “pull the curtain back, or down.” Eternity is here, as is the momentary. Though loyal to solitude, Peirce is in conversation with lovers, childhood, travelers, music, and language itself. “Are you with me?” she asks.
Reviews & such
- “Peirce has always been drawn to the short poem, but those in Lion’s Paw feel even more gem-like. These poems have more facets, more faces, than one first realizes. They are prismatic, in the way they bend the light. Sometimes it’s beyond our reach—which is where I had forgotten I want poetry to take me.”
–Corey Van Landingham, West Branch Magazine, May 2023
- “Falling into this book is to become gently tangled in lines that gracefully capture the lightest elements of our world—color, emotion, warp and weft.”
–Laurie Saurborn, The Night Heron Barks, December, 2021
- Poetry Society of America “In Their Own Words” Feature, 2021
- In this gratifyingly dense and philosophically ambitious sixth collection, Peirce (Vault) considers the relationship between perception and the lyric imagination.
–Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2021
- Like peacock feathers with uncompleted faces, oozing color inside the egg, then strangely able to make logic of their shapes…these poems by Kathleen Peirce are from the other side of what is seen to be the whole, and beautiful.
- At the heart of this collection is the question: ‘What does a resident of earth deserve?’ Waiting seems to be both punishment and possibility in these epistemological inquiries, where ‘feral roses’ are ‘tangled, voluptuous, liturgical, with flower heads like mouths open or opening past words.’ These poems test ‘the extent of vertigo’ and vibrate with an eros that swerves past, or beyond, the mind: ‘Why not feel touched,’ the speaker asks, ‘stepped away from thought?’ Threaded together by language-play, an exquisite music, and humor—’You look, like a dog in a suit, at once young and old for your age’—the philosophical depths here buoy and transfix a reader open to Peirce’s extraordinary apprehensions, her elegies, her ‘waiting for the next astonishment.
- Like pain wakes, inside,’ Kathleen Peirce’s poetry opens forms of awareness that we’d not known were missing in us, ‘its presence wholly understood where, before, / its absence had been only partly realized.’ In her sixth collection, LION’S PAW, she enters into John Constable’s cirrus clouds and a light pink octagon by Richard Tuttle, speaks as a trapeze artist, officiates a wedding in a patch of feral roses, and fits poems into powder compacts—all under the sign of lyric devotion. Like the writings of St. Augustine, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens, Peirce’s poems leave us ‘with the memory of a music that entered us, / and the sinking in the silence afterward, / signal of the durations.
About the Author
Kathleen Peirce grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. She teaches poetry in the MFA program at Texas State University. She lives in Wimberley, Texas.