Media Kit

Hi-res front cover
Author's photograph
Sample page spread
Sample from Glossary
Sample Notes to Poems

Backgrounder Text

Retail and wholesale customers please click here for information.

Poetry Lovers:
Please buy our books at your favourite bookstore. If they are not there you can order from Leaf by clicking below. Or email
We will include an invoice
(we pay shipping).



October 09 | 5.5 x 8.5 | 92 pp | 978-1-926655-03-1 | $17.95

Let Beauty Be:
a Season in the Highlands, Guatemala

by Kit Pepper

This is an astounding debut collection, a sustained chain of thirty-one poetic journal entries the author first drafted while working for a clinic in the highlands of Guatemala. Kit Pepper, a runner with a machete-sharp eye for detail and a linguist’s ear for polyphonous sound, takes us on a journey of self-discovery through a landscape of beguiling beauty and heart-wrenching poverty, over cobblestone streets and pot-holed roads, up and down the steep paths of La Gruta gorge, through bird-filled pine forests, and past laundry cast over cacti, gangs of snarling, maltreated dogs, and garbage dumps circled by vultures with heads like conquistador helmets. Buckle up for a breath-taking ride.          Ruth R. Pierson

Simply radiant sight! This novel long poem journal offers 31 days as runs—at and into—the act of compassion that seeing and hearing clearly can be. Exotic beauty—as stumbling block—trips metaphor—or ignores it. Kit Pepper speaks of terrible beauty with forthrightness as fresh as slaps of light!                                                            Phil Hall


Phil Hall's book White Porcupine (BookThug, 2007)
Ruth R. Pierson's book Aide-Mémoire (BuschekBooks, 2007)

Click here for Audio:
Kit Pepper in conversation with Jan Coleman and Kevin Midbo at People First Radio as heard on CHLY Radio Malaspina.


About the Author:

Kit Pepper has lived on Gabriola Island for seventeen years, and over these years a number of her poems have appeared in Canadian and international literary journals. Occasionally a poem places in, or wins, a contest.
     She works in the Faculty of Education at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C. where her life is enriched by many fine students and colleagues.
     This manuscript, set in Guatemala, is perhaps the result of being in Greece, Paris, Mexico and India for extended periods at other times in her life. For her, travel and writing combine well.
     The most important feature about her is that she has three grown sons who constantly inspire her with their spiritedness and compassion.

Let Beauty Be: a Season in the Highlands, Guatemala is a cycle of sequential poems distilled from events and impressions Kit Pepper gained while volunteering in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala from February to May, 2006. There she was aligned with Alianza, a project which responded to grassroots requests for education and health care from the local Mam-speaking women and men of Comitancillo and surrounding, rural aldeas, altitude 7000 feet.

These poems started out as fragments and sketches in a tiny, torn notebook in a vest pocket as she took a daily run that drew her from the highland plateau down an impossibly steep mountain fissure to a gravel road that meanders parallel to the Rio Chixal. The poems recount how this morning run, which starts as an arduous almost impossible task, surprisingly becomes an integral part of the her day; how predawn persistence gradually takes up residency in legs and lungs. As the run and especially La Gruta, the temple-steep crevasse of descent and ascent, wedge their way into the narrator's inner landscape, other highland forces also begin to disclose themselves; but hesitantly the way a sacred lake does from its mist, faces of small children from the earth of their candle lit adobe home, an oppressed people from their colonizers.

One reading of these poems could conclude that what we're following is the evolution of an aspect of the narrator. And indeed, we do see how, leaning deeply into La Gruta's belly, she makes the passage from reluctant to resolute jogger. However, her growing physical endurance occurs tangentially to seamless scenes of street teeming with scrappy feral dogs, market animals and mysterious birds, Maya women and girls dressed in their finest Market Day traje , threshold altars on doorsteps, all night religious festivities and conveys of bright, over-packed, zealot highway buses. Also, never removed from this restless animation of daily life are the braided elements of Maya cosmology, Guatemala's historical legacy and the contemporary death-nail influences of innumerable foreign powers.

Unequivocal beauty and blunt terror, abiding forces in these Guatemalan highlands, stand together in unsparing and exacting intimacy. This is a landscape where, by day, a machete manifests as a broadside percussive instrument tamping and leveling damp adobe bricks, while at night, becomes a weapon of domestic malice, slashing to the bone the arms and skull of a young mother. Her three children as witnesses; untold generations of the past and future.

Structurally, these poems are laid out in a linear fashion and, like stepping stones, sequentially move the reader from days of early spring into clouded, clogged days of pending rain. However, this straightforward order strains against the mutable context where concrete materiality is only a minor aspect of reality. Rather, the brashly coloured and intricate Maya world we read about is a world where everything is in sway, where matter never fully congeals into its material form, preferring to jump into and out of any number of otherworld portals. Slowly the narrator learns to hear these petitions of ambient presence; slowly, for instance, she begins to understand the switch back nature of time and that birth and death, of which there are frequent instances, are only examples of the capacity of spirit to rest a moment on earth, in this mist-laden plateau.

Perhaps most profoundly, and despite efforts to diminish the suffering of one particular street dog, the narrator witnesses the permanent lasso of suffering. How, suffering changes shape before her eyes and, for instance, bounds along beside her as yet one more wound-festering feral dog.

::: home ::: about us ::: guidelines ::: get in touch ::: order ::: chapbooks :::