The Kissing of Kissing

“[An] expansive and ecstatic debut”—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
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In this remarkable debut, which marks the beginning of Multiverse—a literary series written and curated by the neurodivergent­—Hannah Emerson’s poems keep, dream, bring, please, grownd, sing, kiss, and listen. They move with and within the beautiful nothing (“of buzzing light”) from which, as she elaborates, everything jumps.

In language that is both bracingly new and embracingly intimate, Emerson invites us to “dive down to the beautiful muck that helps you get that the world was made from the garbage at the bottom of the universe that was boiling over with joy that wanted to become you you you yes yes yes.” These poems are encounters—animal, vegetal, elemental—that form the markings of an irresistible future. And The Kissing of Kissing makes joyously clear how this future, which can sometimes seem light-years away, is actually as close, as near, as each immersive now. It finds breath in the woods and the words and the worlds we share, together “becoming burst becoming / the waking dream.”

With this book, Emerson, a nonspeaking autistic poet, generously invites you, the reader, to meet yourself anew, again, “to bring your beautiful nothing” into the light.

Publish Date
8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 in
5.1 oz

Hannah Emerson

Hannah Emerson is the author of The Kissing of Kissing. She is also the author of a chapbook, You Are Helping This Great Universe Explode.

Praise and Prizes

  • “This expansive and ecstatic debut, by a nonspeaking autistic poet who calls on ‘prayer to let all of / language answer me,’ inaugurates the publisher’s ‘Multiverse’ series of books by neurodivergent authors.”

    New York Times Book Review
  • “Inventive … Images repeat on a scale that shifts from the immediate, worldly, and intimate to the cosmic. ‘Please try// to imagine how big you are yes yes,’ Emerson suggests, challenging the reader to expand their perception and vision through this unusual and intriguing approach to form.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Fierce and energetic … [The Kissing of Kissing] makes a remarkable statement, both visually and verbally.”


    Shelf Awareness
  • “[The Kissing of Kissing] is beautiful to behold and even more refreshing to see pleasure so central to neurodiversity because of how often mainstream literature erases this fact.”

    Sarah Neilson
  • “The first entry in Milkweed’s Multiverse series of books focused on neurodivergent and disabled writers, Hannah Emerson’s debut is utterly beguiling, her poetry an indescribable combination of interior monologue and public address. ‘Please try/ to become the breath that gives/ helpful thoughts that are floating / towards you yes yes,’ she writes with characteristic longing and confidence. Reading this beautiful book, I felt as though Emerson’s words had always been in my head.”

    Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR, “Books We Love”
  • “A testament to the idea that poetry is truly the root of human connection via language is The Kissing of Kissing, a groundbreaking collection from neurodivergent poet Hannah Emerson. The raw beauty of each individual poem — and the entire book — is stunning and absolutely confident in its structural integrity.”

    Angela María Spring
    Washington Independent Review of Books
  • “Emerson, a non-speaking, autistic writer, communicates a sublime personal cosmology in poems vibrating with an energy that derives, in part, from surprising repetitions, especially of the words kissing and yes … Unforgettable.”


    Heather Green
    Poetry Foundation’s “Harriet Books” blog
  • “Hannah Emerson’s The Kissing of Kissing is one of the most accomplished poetry debuts I’ve come across in recent memory. There’s something of Molly Bloom’s final soliloquy in these poems, that deep rush of deep ecstasy made full by having touched deep loss: ‘I sound / each prayer to let all of / language answer me. / Teach our water its art. / Use questions.’ You can feel echoes of Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, and Ross Gay in Emerson’s truly singular and unforgettable voice. This is one of those rare miraculous books that, having read, I want to immediately share with everyone I love.”

    Kaveh Akbar
  • The Kissing of Kissing is the most original collection of poetry I’ve read in years … [Emerson’s] ability to transmit the full-body experience of joy is rivaled only by Whitman. Please, please read this book. Your mind and your poetry and your life will be better for it.”

    Ali Hintz
    Arkansas International
  • “I have never read a book like The Kissing of Kissing … Hannah Emerson has exploded cultural assumptions about how we should write, how we should communicate, and what it means to be alive … Emerson [draws] the reader out of their trance and into the real world, which to her is grander, vaster, and freer than we all might realize.”

    Kate Horowitz
    Luna Luna Magazine
  • “This book feels personal and inviting at the same time–it’s very much Emerson’s story and perspective on display, and yet her work regards the reader not as a distant observer but as a partner in experiencing this big weird world we find ourselves in. The Kissing of Kissing makes the complicated feel comfortable and vice-versa, and that makes it a book worth settling down with and reading again and again.”

    Samir Knego
  • “[The Kissing of Kissing] articulates nascent worlds anxiously awaiting their opening … Emerson, as an autistic poet, is not broken in the face of neurotypical linguistic norms, but rather an agent in the breaking and rebuilding of alternative ways to know the world.”

    [Sarah] Cavar
    Barrelhouse Reviews
  • “There is a ‘yes yes’ magic spell ‘yes yes’ in these pages, as this planet’s most extraordinary poems will cast. Yes, and more ‘yes yes,’ Hannah Emerson’s The Kissing of Kissing deserves a cult following—I’M IN! You, too, will fall in love with these poems that are coming at life in angles we never knew we needed to imagine!”

  • The Kissing of Kissing is incantatory and ecstatic. Ideas and images rooted in the natural world appear and swirl; the patterns and deviations they create combine to form a lush soundscape. In the vibrant heart of this woods of Hannah Emerson’s words, we are implored to embrace gestures that are straightforward and not—to ‘try to dive / down to the / beautiful muck’ or ‘to get to the flake of / snow that indescribable thing / that we need to know if we are to melt.’ The Kissing of Kissing is spectacular in its cadences and in its call to embrace longing, desire, intimacy, and (yes yes) love.”

    Michael Kleber-Diggs
  • “‘Look very hard to find / the place between / the pillow and hell,’ Hannah Emerson writes in The Kissing of Kissing. Half entreating, half commanding, with an expansive approach to syntax and the urgent repetition of a heart beating with greater and greater intensity toward self-realization through language, these poems demonstrate a poetics of deep listening and deep feeling, of care, that suggests an alternative to the cruelty and carelessness that often take center stage in our historical moment. Hell is always proximate, Emerson’s poems remind us, but through attentiveness to ‘little things,’ so is the possibility for transformation—which is the work of poetry.”

    Lauren Russell