El mundo nace cuando dos se besan.
The world is born when two people kiss.
—Octavio Paz

From Sioux Falls to Santiago to Paris, from Teheran to Khartoum to Reykjavik, Kyoto to Darwin; from the panchayat forests of India to the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland; in taxis and at bus stops and in kitchens and in sleigh beds and in haystacks and at airports around the globe people are kissing one another. This is not the scripted passion of Hollywood. The kissing that takes place in our lives is far more complicated and messy and human than the celluloid veneer of the silver screen. The kissing doesn’t stop when Ken Saro-wiwa is murdered in Nigeria. It doesn’t stop when members of Pussy Riot are beaten and thrown in prison. It doesn’t stop to consider Ai WeiWei as he gathers sunflower seeds for The Unilever Series. It doesn’t stop when Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrap the Reichstag in fabric and even when Christo says that it takes “greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain.” The great and recorded moments of history mostly elide over the profound moments, like the kiss, that comprise the very essence of our individual lives.

—Brian Turner

Brian Turner: The Kiss – An Introduction to the Series

Kim Addonizio: Interlude

Kazim Ali: A Symphony in the Rain

Nickole Brown: The Evolution of a Kiss

Terrance Hayes: Half Fable

Beth Ann Fennelly: A Reckoning of Kisses

Nick Flynn: The Last Kiss

Rebecca Makkai: Light Years

Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Notes on the Invisible Kiss

Kristen Radtke: The Greatest Show on Earth

Camille T. Dungy: Kiss, Kiss, Kiss

Ilyse Kusnetz: The Secret Kiss

Benjamin Busch: Kissing Melissa

Major Jackson: Where Scars Reside

Patricia Smith: Bazooka Smackdown

Sholeh Wolpé: Man Without Fear  

Philip Metres: Kissing Joe F-

Lacy M. Johnson: Trigger

Kurt Brown and Laure-Anne Bosselaar: The Kiss I Would Have Spent on You

Nathalie Handal: The Night and Nightingale