A debut volume of poetry explores the emotional highs and lows of love and all its incarnations.
For eight years as she explored Europe, Kite-Powell collected cutthroat observations about mating, dating, and relating that she expertly arranged in free-verse poetry. Using distilled language that pulses with energy, the poet envelops readers in the heat and urgency of attraction. “Ask someone to run really fast into a brick wall. / they won’t do it. / love makes you do that,” she writes in “nostalgic whiplash.” The author lusts openly and unexpectedly for virtually everyone she meets, from a man in seat 21B to a beguiling bartender: “A glass slides to you. / his smile slides to you. / you drink the smile first / and taste the drink later.” But it isn’t all fun and games; in a standout poem titled “polyamorous existence,” the author laments the hyperoptimistic profiles on dating apps. All she wants to see is “a profile where the guy says his kids bug / the crap out of him and he just wants to cuddle after ordering a pizza.” Her tone then swerves from satirical to sorrowful when she realizes “nothing tastes or feels the same anymore. / not even sex.” While she gives shoutouts to literary greats like Tolstoy, Charles Bukowski, D.H. Lawrence, and Harold Pinter, her own poetry is firmly rooted in modern times and name-checks digital touchstones like emojis and Google hangouts. There’s never a dull moment in Kite-Powell’s work, and she isn’t limited to the salacious. In the final section, titled “Truth,” she flips the idea that “New York is a state of mind” on its head, eviscerates the “stupendously dysfunctional” communion wafer, and claims “nihilism is more real than love.” Though she may be too cynical for some readers (as when she writes that sex “might just be the only miracle there is”), she is never obscene. The only time she goes too far is in describing a plant’s leaves being as “stiff as his morning erection.”
A bold and exhilarating collection of erotic, stream-of-consciousness poems.