Lesley Harrison

Lesley Harrison

Lesley Harrison, born in Ayrshire, Scotland, has published six collections of poetry, including the poetry pamphlet Blue Pearl from New Directions. She has lived and worked in Istanbul, West Africa, Mongolia, and Orkney, on Scotland’s northern coastline. Harrison has held writing residencies in Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, and the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies. She lives in the small fishing village of Auchmithie on the Angus coast of Scotland.

cover image of the book Kitchen Music

Kitchen Music

by Lesley Harrison

With a contribution by Kirsty Gunn

and the end of the street / is the limit of the world / where the ocean retreats and retreats

In her first book-length collection of poems to appear in the US, Lesley Harrison looks north to the sea, with the heat of the land at her back, to bring us meditations on whale hunts and lost children, Manhattan sky towers, and the sound of the gamelan in the Gulf of Bothnia. A poetry of spareness in multilayered depths, of textural silence and aural place, Kitchen Music plunges deep through the strata of language where “weather is body” and an Iceland poppy is “as delicate as birch.” In poems and sequences of poems, Harrison spins folktales into threads of family and gender, engages with the work of the artists Roni Horn and Marina Rees, transcribes John Cage and Johannes Kepler into song and litany, pens a hymnal of bees, and turns to storms, glaciers, and the lapwing life in a field of young barley. As the novelist Kirsty Gunn writes in the foreword, Harrison has “taken up the old white whale of the fixed and masculine narratives and made of its seas and weathers her own Moby Dick, a female poetry ‘in praises / repeated, repeating.’”

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cover image of the book Blue Pearl

Blue Pearl

What does Northness sound like? The music of Iceland, Greenland, the Svalbard Archipelago. Songs of birds and ice and wind. In Lesley Harrison’s Blue Pearl , her first collection to appear in the United States, northern landscapes come alive through an intimacy of language that forms a collective sense of place through weather, history, local myths and customs, and childhood fairy tales. Dogs on the shale, eels in the current, a ship strains as it’s pulled up by a needle, a whaler unwinds the skin—Harrison’s poems voyage forth with visible breath, “as snow falls as light is in paper.”

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