Seedlip and Sweet Apple
Arra Lynn Ross
“A miraculous text of narrative and speech fragments . . . to raise up Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, her ecstatic voice, energy, and vision.” —Hilda Raz, award-winning author of Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been
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.
“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.” —D. A. Powell, National Book Critics Circle Award–winning poet
“A work powerful in voice and craft.” —Feminist Review