May’s Good Stuff


My Own Strange Beast (Porkbelly Press, 2017)
by Melissa Atkinson Mercer


A Map of the Farm Three Miles from the End of Happy Hollow Road (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Amorak Huey »


Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Nicole Rollender »


Haunting the Last House on Holland Island, Fallen into the Bay (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Sarah Ann Winn »

  • One of Sarah’s Holland Island pieces was nominated for WigleaF‘s long list!


Set the Garden on Fire (Porkbelly Press, 2015)
by Chen Chen »


My Heart in Aspic (Porkbelly Press, 2015)
by Sonya Vatomsky »


Feeding the Dead (Porkbelly Press, 2017)
by M. Brett Gaffney » blog


bindweed & crow poison: small poems of stray girls, fierce women (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Robin Turner


Ghost Skin (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Wren Hanks » tumblr


hiku [pull] (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by James A. H. White


Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015) &
The Peace of Wild Things (Porkbelly Press, 2015)
by Ariana D. Den Bleyker »

  • Ariana has two new pieces in May’s beautiful issue of Hermeneutic Chaos.


Dry Spell (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
by Patrick Kindig » website


Monday Bacon

(Recent crisp &/or delightful mentions, features & reviews of Porkbelly Press titles.)


The Peace of Wild Things (Ariana D. Den Bleyker) reviewed by Allie Marini (via Rhizomatic Ideas // Zoetic Press):

“Dickinson writes, “A wounded deer leaps highest,” and in a movement of 15 poems, Den Bleyker shows us just how high that wounded deer can rise—each poem fuses the beauty and violence of nature, the casual cruelty of the natural order of things, as something that is simultaneously terrifying, intoxicating, and necessary for evolution. Wolves, deer, crows, wild boar, salmon, and all manner of songbirds—from chickadees and thrushes to cardinals and finches—populate the lines of the poems, each of them stitched together with the human voice of “you” and “me”, who at times run together as a pack and at other times hopelessly leap upstream, towards their death and away from each other.”  | read the entire review.

My Heart in Aspic (Sonya Vatomsky) reviewed by Ruth Foley via Horse Less Press:

“These poems often feel like they have spilled onto the page of their own volition, and in some ways I suppose they have. They arrive without warning, without any sense of internal censorship, and invite a reader to take them as they are.” | read the entire review.


My Heart in Aspic (Sonya Vatomsky) is this week’s “Best Dressed” at Sundress Publications’ The Wardrobe.


If you’re at the Dallas Zine Party (The Wild Detectives Bookstore, Dallas, TX) on Sept 6, look for Robin Turner, a contributor to Emily (our anthology of works inspired by the letters, life, and poems of Emily Dickinson). She’ll have a few copies of the antho on hand.

The Peace of Wild Things (Ariana D. Den Bleyker)

There’s a primal peel and pull to this chap, a hungry animal ripping strips of reluctant flesh from its meal. It might read like a loss to some, burying, re-burying, and unearthing again, but in this litany of exposed bone and steaming viscera, there’s a resonant note of hopefulness, a fire kindling finally, finally, on a cold night deep in the wood, wolves huffing in the brush. It feels, for all the violence and mourning, like a recovery. Even in the frenzy of a carcass stripped, someone is fed. | available from our shop

The chapbook measures about 5.25 x 5 inches. Its cover is printed via inkjet on Epson matte photo paper. Each book is handbound & trimmed.

An excerpt from the opening poem “The Future is an Animal:”

I dream I am wolf, dream larger things until,
no face remaining, hair grows through floor-
boards, teeth in concrete and claws from brick,
what is proper only in bone. My coat rips away
from closed eyes, hunger, open hand: touch.

And an excerpt from a later in the collection, “The Heart Expands in Black Soil:”

I dreamed of hunting wild boars, burying
two beating hearts. You called out, pointed
toward the sky. We stretched substance
into shadow, imagined ourselves yoked,
hooves torn & bloody, knowing we used
to say too much until it wasn’t enough.
We listened intently, heard the hearts
beat together, rip apart in silence. It was
more than quiet & wrong to call it peaceful.
I’ll make my own bones of this,

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, including Wayward Lines, Strangest Sea and Beautiful Wreckage, the novelette, Finger : Knuckle : Palm and the experimental memoir, prosthesis. She is the founder and publisher of ELJ Publications, home of Emerge Literary Journal, scissors & spackle, Amethyst Arsenic and other fine journals. She can be found at

About the cover artists:

Nicci Mechler & Jonathan Rountree have been making art together for years, ever since they met in an undergraduate ceramics class at Northern Kentucky University, and learned the hard lesson that in raku firing as in life, measure twice, transport red-hot ceramics via wiggly tongs once. That story is available over drinks. Tweet us. @porkbellypress

What others are saying about this book:

There’s something of the grit of fairytales in The Peace of Wild Things. Something enchanting, old-timey, strung together with words that punch a rhythm out while deftly navigating the sounds of the written word. These poems dare you to touch the feathers and the bones of discomfort. To lay there on the forest floor and discover your own wild things, to embrace them, elegant or bloody—or both.

E. Kristin Anderson, author of A Guide for the Practical Abductee and Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night.


Poems from this chapbook first appeared in such mags as: White Stag, Rust + Moth, and Gargoyle.

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:

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