Seedlip and Sweet Apple
Seamlessly bridging the material and spiritual worlds, Seedlip and Sweet Apple takes the reader into the mind of a true visionary: Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shaker religion in colonial America.
With astonishingly original poems inspired by extensive historical research, Arra Lynn Ross creates a collection linked thematically through the voice and story of the woman who was believed by her followers to be Christ incarnate. Broadly and inclusively spiritual, this remarkable debut captures the ineffable experience of ecstatic vision, activating the progression from literal reality to heightened perception. Simultaneously, this journey delves into the manifold issues of gender and religion, public image, and charismatic leadership, as well as the line between cult and commune and the tenuous bond between faith and behavior.
Written in an impressive cornucopia of forms—including iambic quatrains, free verse, and prose poems—Seedlip and Sweet Apple honors a complex figure startlingly relevant to contemporary life, pointing to a revolutionary way to work at living—and to live in working—that promises simplicity, peace, and joy.
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Praise and Prizes
“Situated between glossary and glossolalia, word and vision, the communal act of language and the singularity of inspiration, Seedlip and Sweet Apple reaffirms the tradition of American visionaries, even while reshaping that tradition into an innovative and dynamic lyric. Arra Lynn Ross raises the roof with her convocation of tongues. A pioneering collection of poems.”
“A creative and compelling rendering of a strange and charismatic leader. Arra Lynn Ross’s poems catch the dangers and the challenges of this woman who heard God’s whisperings, lost four children to early deaths, journeyed to the New World in 1744, used her body with others to warm a room with dance, and rejoiced in the sight of a deer or the pleasures of watching rosehip tea steaming in the sun.”
“A work powerful in voice and craft . . . If you care about the value of our national literature, Seedlip and Sweet Apple is well worth the investment.”
“Seedlip and Sweet Apple marks the birth of a star. Radical and transgressive young poet and writer Arra Lynn Ross has made a miraculous text of narrative and speech fragments . . . to raise up Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, her ecstatic voice, energy, and vision. If, as Yeats promised, ‘soul clap its hands and sing,’ here she is, on the page, in the ear: Ann Lee in the historical world, harmed and holy, brave, alive and in community, ‘a woman sowing seeds at the break of day.’”
“Arra Lynn Ross’s powerful collection inevitably recalls Robert Peters’s The Gift to Be Simple and she is no less penetrating of Mother Ann’s psyche. But whereas Peters’s stubby-lined, intense, physical style kindled fire, Ross’s longer lines, occasional prose poems and narrative episodes, documentary interjections, and employment of voices other than Ann’s feel broader, cooler, more rested in the Lord, at last.”