Strangest Sea by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

Strangest Sea intrigued us at the epigraph, which features lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem: “Hope is a thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all…” What follows is a series of linked prose poems packed with lyric moments, vivid capsules of blooming image, and a journey of the I in struggle/concert with Hope, “she is a body of barbed wire and dandelions, synapse and tendon, elegant architecture, a red handkerchief of bones, a throat filled with God.”  | open edition | $6

An excerpt from “HOPE wasn’t always like this:”

//HOPE wasn’t always like this—stuck to the hollows of my chest, my ribs, distinct as fish gills. She taught me how to swim, roping her fragile arms around my neck and squealing as I dove into the wide blue sea. But now, she emerges like night with its thick white tablecloth, where I eat before the pang strikes, the ache that calls forth the white room whose door I can’t seem to shut.—Now I wade into the water, allow the water to rise over the hills of my body, my breasts, finally breathing, finally, underwater—//

Open Edition Cover

The cover image (“Floating on Aubergine” by Nicci Mechler) is printed on both lignin & acid free cardstock and Epson premium matte professional paper (some laser, some inkjet). The micro chapbook is handbound & each is trimmed by hand. Hand-cut flags, typed old school, are affixed to the verso. As they are handmade, no two are exactly alike.

About the Poet

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in Upstate New York, a wife, mother of two, a writer and an editor. When she’s not editing or writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of several poetry chapbooks and collections, a novelette, a novella and an experimental memoir. Ariana is the Founder of ELJ Publications, a small press specializing in the author, featuring a number of serials, series and contests, including Emerge Literary Journal, scissors & spackle, Amethyst Arsenic, and The J.J. Outré Review. She can be found at:

www.arianaddenbleyker.com

What others are saying about Strangest Sea:

Ariana D. Den Bleyker masterfully gives Emily Dickinson’s ‘thing with feathers that perches in the soul’ – Hope – a second life as a ‘lovely, strange and cold’ lover who wants to be tongue kissed and cut open. The reader will know this familiar lover even in the dark, her body made of barbed wire and dandelions, her ‘throat … filled with God.’ This lush and haunting chapbook-length prose poem is a love letter to the self, to what longings inhabit the body. There’s a sense that no matter how rough the world has become, Hope is there, her ‘sweet slips of song cutting the first gray hints of light.’ This is not to say Hope doesn’t cause chaos, roughly unlocking the body and sticking her beak between ribs. But she is a very ‘real red thing,’ living in each of our bodies. This poem is a true testament to our resilience.” ~ Nicole Rollender, author of Bone of My Bone and Little Deaths

Strangest Sea is more than strange, it is brave. Ariana D. Den Bleyker’s voice “leans in” and divides the self into halves, making the reader as rapacious and hungry as she is in the search to know hope on a deeper level. Her intense clarity of thought and highly acute degree of sensory awareness coupled with her rich and vivid imagery makes it clear even discomfort has a place in hope’s fickle hands. Whether human, bird, or fish, above all — female, Den Bleyker communes with hope on different levels. Each movement of the poem is self-referential, and, taken as a whole, a kind of meta-narrative that is incredibly smart. We are just lucky to witness such courageous vulnerability, such stunning use of the metaphor, all of which serves as the “beautiful architecture” for each poetic movement. ~ Katherine MacCue, author of No Timid Electra

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