new book: what she holds, a memoir by d. ellis phelps

told in poetic form

what she holds is the story of love and hate, of tender affection and abject fear, of careful attention and violent eruption, of too much and too little. This is the story of a life unfolding in the arms of chaos, the story of healing the past, a past that had bled into the present, the work that stopped the bleeding.

cover image: I Believe Akene fly by Philippe Chardet

Deep gratitude and thanks to Philippe Chardet for the cover image. The reason this image is perfect for this book is the definition of akène: a small, dry, one-seeded fruit that does not open to release the seed.  The writing of this volume of poetry was a transformative act and a central part of my effort to heal and reconcile a difficult relationship with my father, posthumously. The book’s title refers to the need to let go of grief over the loss and many other traumas involved in this eons-long relationship, one I am sure has lasted lifetimes. The akène seed “cannot” let go in nature but as Chardet’s image title suggests, one can let go metaphysically if one believes. This possibility is at the heart of this writing and thus, makes his art perfect for mine.

Thank you, Phillipe!

I am also ever indebted to the writers and editors who have written blurbs and reviews for this collection: Cindy Huyser, Chella Courington, Jacob Kobina Ayiha Mensah, Martha K. Grant, Robert Okaji, and Leslie Ferguson.

Here is a peek at Jacob Kobina’s kind review in Missouri Baptist University’s lit mag, Fireflies (p. 97):

If you’d like a signed copy ($12.50), message me here. I’ll happily sign and send.

Here’s a sample to entice you:

gut punching
 
i was
 
thin
 
my pelvis
caving in
 
ribs         like wires
—corseting      my
 
barely there body
—a pale ballet
 
      ~
 
in the fall
of my fourteenth
 
year
 
i shopped for shifts: 
 
dresses      straight
cloth sacks
empire waist
 
i bought six
& chose
 
one       i’d wear
the first day
of high-school:
 
navy blue
& yellow
 
linen
 
yellow
fish-net
 
hose
 
      ~

the first day
the first week
 
came and went
me      bent over
 
bile      coming up
 
letting go
 
      ~
 
my parent’s bed
my hot     hot head
 
my mother
her cool hand
 
my father       
kneeling
 
please
eat something

he said
 
      ~

age eighteen
with freshman

fifteen      a
carat diamond
 
on my left hand
 
my hips      round
my buxom breasts
 
substantial
full of myself
 
not a waif
 
a woman
      ~

you’re getting fat
he said
 
—gut      punching
 
      ~

there were days
(      for years     )
 
when i
 
didn’t
 
eat
 
a thing
 

As always, I appreciate your support of my work in the world.

Namaste,

d

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