Book Review: Kissing Dead Girls

At times poet Daphne Gottlieb is operating without a poetry manuscript manual, corrosively entering and occupying the literary spaces of other genres. Her found poetry, crafted from special interest web curiosity, culls and gels in a sort of erasure style, using italics to different sources that include mashings of existing work that compliments and challenges original form. Kissing Dead Girls is an exquisite book of poetry. With post-gender realism and none of the sentimental drivel driving points home no one cares about, the voice explodes and shatters with human special effects. Open it up anywhere and you’ll find a cerebral interrogation, hell bent on expressing all of life’s pitiful pitfalls. It’s a collection suffused with passion, aggression and linguistic finality: Gottlieb’s prowess is not excessive but a tool to reveal poem characters caught in the tantalizing web of a sexual dysfunction.

Using dialogue, confessions, interviews, erotica, Gottlieb’s sexual manifesto is intelligent, lyrical and giving, reminiscent of The Happy Birthday of Death, or Pussy King of the Pirates, Kissing Dead Girls moves in and out of categorical restraints, voice and form, and is entirely worth investigating. Not a safe release, not throwaway smut, but essential smut, reclassified as purging catharsis, as found in ‘The Real Deal’ where Gottlieb revisits Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” a monster rendition of agony, shame and reality (“She is ready to be a good little girl, the best girl, she wants to be Daddy’s best girl. She doesn’t make it to work for two days. Her jaw is sore. She can’t sit down because her ass is welted and her cunt is raw and Daddy leaves a message on her phone. It’s Father’s Day. She didn’t call him.”) The poem ‘Glass Onion’, is a calm musing on the disposable culture of sex. Gottlieb’s poetry itself enters the difficult terrain of recreating physical empathy and has obviously toiled hard for a meaningful work.The perfect book for the confused pedestrian who thinks in text speak and grunts, with too much “everyday” weaving in and out of their truly miserable lives. In the throes of reading this poetry, this work would be worth seeing performed live. (Nathaniel G. Moore)

by Daphne Gottlieb,, $14.95, 112 pgs, Soft Skull Press, 19 West 21 St. Suite 1101, New York, New York 10010 USA