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Beautiful in the Mouth

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Thomas Lux selected this debut collection as winner of BOA’s A. Poulin, Jr., Poetry Prize. In his foreword he writes, "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 ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by BOA Editions Ltd. (first published 2010)
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104th out of 108 books — 6 voters

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Dec 12, 2014 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Crunchy-textured reality, that's what I call the poems in this book. There's flight but always grounded in the small sensual moment. Incredible ability to use the things of this world to express emotional truths. Here's my favorite at the moment:


If I have any romantic notions left,
please let me abandon them here
on the dashboard of your Subaru
beside this container of gas station
potato salad and bottle of sunscreen.
Otherwise, my heart is a sugar packet
waiting to be shaken open by some
Nov 29, 2010 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-poetics
Worth it for the similes alone: "a hidden / birthmark like buckshot on your belly," "the hammock swaying on the porch / like a crippled moon," "a bedspread like a patch / of flowers freshly trampled." And my favorite:

the Dior coats
on last winter's sale rack just as sleek and black

as the pelt of that wolverine we found
on Rock Creek last January.

Rock on, Keetje Kuipers. (It's pronounced KATE-juh KEEP-urz, btw.)
Sep 16, 2010 Tara rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning.
May 10, 2014 Andrea rated it it was amazing
A beautiful collection of poetry with tightly crafted poems from the heart. They range all over the country, with a strong sense of place, along with a honest passion. Some poems are very much New York City, which I love less, having never been enamored of that city, but others, set in more rural environs. I ended up dog-earing a dozen pages to remember, so I won't quote all those poems here, but one of my favorites is "River Sonnet."

River Sonnet

When the old she-salmon swam to my rock
where I had
Neil Grayson
Mar 04, 2015 Neil Grayson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Damn. This book. The first thing I should say is that it's absolutely excellent. Multiple poems stopped me in my metaphorical tracks. I do have a small gripe, though. Or rather, a thing that makes me want to give us this book 4.5 stars instead of 5.

The poet Terrence Hayes says that his favorite part of any poem is the "place of not-quite-knowing" (I'm cheaply paraphrasing.) I think that, just like the speaker in her poems, Kuipers sometimes gives us too much. She often left me feeling satisfied
Diann Blakely
Kuiper's wonderful poem "Across A Great Wilderness Without You," recently arrived in my Inbox courtesy of the Academy of American Poets. In one of those happy coincidences, I learned that the poem was from her first book, BEAUTIFUL IN THE MOUTH (BOA Editions, Ltd.), which had been chosen for this year's A. Poulin, Jr. publication prize by Tom Lux--and, how weird is this?--not only was Al Poulin my first editor, having plucked HURRICANE WALK from the slush pile, but Mr. Lux had also picked one of ...more
Joan Colby
Nov 04, 2014 Joan Colby rated it really liked it
Certainly the poems are accomplished. The first ones in the collection seem like crafted exercises rather than being passion-driven. An overuse of adjectives presents a room so filled with objects that the eye fails to select what’s significant. It seems an unusual, and thus deliberate, weakness in a poet who has clearly honed her skill. Perhaps it is simply her fancy, adding earrings, bracelets, necklaces, jeweled tiara, rather than just one perfect medallion. However, as the poems proceed, ...more
Mar 22, 2015 Cari rated it really liked it
I had this strong urge to read poetry (I blame it on Janet Fitch's White Oleander ) and I came across a review for Beautiful in the Mouth written by Janet Fitch herself and I just knew I had to read this. I enjoyed every word of this sensual, beautiful, and sometimes dark collection of poetry by Keetje Kuipers. My favorite lines were in the poem entitled "Finally":

"That finally coming to love you
has been a hard-earned pleasure,
so that every time you enter me
I want to cry out, Bury me,
bury me
Excellent, beautiful, and some of the best "New York" poems I've read in a long time, maybe because the setting is incidental.

Has me thinking:

"There are deaths that terrify me still / because they have not happened yet."

"My little empire goes to sleep around me."

"My soldier who returns home without his / hands, the fingers somewhere else still doing / their slow work of pulling a trigger."
May 16, 2012 Roxanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, want-to-own
This is one talented poet. I was incredibly impressed by this collection: Kuipers has this wonderful irreverence (wind spitting sawdust curls across my / windshield like star-shards blown out a comet's ass) that blends beautifully with her lyricism and lovely, expert use of language. Several poems made me tear up. I really look forward to reading more from her.
May 17, 2011 Aran rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
So, I got this book on the strength of one poem--"Across a Great Wilderness without You"--that Rodney showed me.... the rest of the book is the same kinda material but noooooooooooooooooot quite as good. But still good. Two or three other standouts in there.
Jun 11, 2012 Leesa rated it it was amazing
beautiful in the mouth. beautiful in my eyes forreals. i read a lot of these aloud to my hubs and he was sometimes in that dreamy place inbetween sleep and half-sleep, but i was awake. and i loved these poems a lot a lot.
Oct 29, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
To me, this is a book that needs to be read on the page. I heard the author read from it and was very disappointed. Then I bought the book and read it cover-to-cover--it was a whole different feeling. Not so beautiful in the mouth, but terrific on the page!
Oct 10, 2010 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Lovely and lush, this collection weds startling images and haunting emotional refrain. Reading these poems is a sudden, intimate joy; hearing Keetje read them aloud is a humbling and profound experience.
Feb 13, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Although she writes from the city and the country, I feel she is more at home in the country. Her keen eye finds the telling details and makes them uniquely hers. The grieving poems toward the end are contemporary and generous in spirit. A writer to watch.
Jun 05, 2013 secondwomn rated it liked it
Shelves: library, poetry, 2013
i wanted to love this, but only liked it. there's plenty of artistry on display, but many of the poems didn't cohere for me. it would be good to read more of kuipers work.
Joe Smith
Oct 31, 2010 Joe Smith rated it it was amazing
Powerful, honest, energetic & fun & deep, thought-provoking: poems that remind me of the power of what a poem can do.
Broadsided Press -
"The undeniable desire for physical contact among boys of a certain age," a poem by Keetje Kuipers, was Broadsided December 1, 2006. See it at
Mar 05, 2013 Tasha rated it really liked it

"...Just beyond

our trailer, the sound of trains hitching and unhitching
is thunder entering my ribs and I want it."

~from The Reno
Apr 24, 2011 Kendall rated it it was amazing
Kuipers just nails this entire book. The language, the images...everything. This could be the best collection I've read in the last ten years. Easily.
Sharon Miller
Sharon Miller rated it liked it
Dec 19, 2014
Taylor Emily Copeland
Taylor Emily Copeland rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2016
Tasha rated it it was amazing
Mar 14, 2011
Lisa rated it liked it
Nov 16, 2011
Rose rated it it was amazing
Dec 09, 2011
Jenny Blumberg
Jenny Blumberg rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2011
Sue rated it it was amazing
Jun 06, 2014
Cate Linden
Cate Linden rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2015
Jenna DeFrei
Jenna DeFrei rated it liked it
Jun 22, 2016
Erika rated it it was amazing
May 19, 2016
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Keetje Kuipers is a native of the Northwest. She earned her B.A. at Swarthmore College and her M.F.A. at the University of Oregon, and was most recently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Keetje is the 2011-2012 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.

In 2007 Keetje was the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. She used the residency to complete work on her book Be
More about Keetje Kuipers...

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