Review of at the water’s edge
Poetry collections can often be odd assortments, a pot luck lunch with ten different potato salads, or a box of mixed chocolates. at the water’s edge is like the latter, except very dark chocolates. Ones that celebrate the bitterness, the alkaloids that make your toes tingle when you bite in. Nadia weaves words into cloth and then sews them into a quilt where you are at once struck by the differences and amazed at the way it all fits together.
The poems are mostly dialogues in the first person, with I and You, You not being the reader or some generalized person, but some vague predator. They take you down a path you may not wish to be on, a dark empty street with the footsteps of a stranger not far behind. There is a feeling you want to escape from, but she does not show fear, fear that might arouse the presence stalking you.
As a writer, I am drawn to the third person, to mitigate intensity, like dissociation. Nadia provides no escape from her situations; this didn’t happen to someone far away or long ago, but to a person you are listening to. Your empathy is fully engaged as you begin to understand this perspective, the perspective of a person drowning.
“i shouldn’t have flowed in/the same river twice/it ran against me/slapping harder every time”
I have to admit some bias when I say that my favorite poem was Bleeding Heart as it was one that we made into a song. Nadia sent us several poems as possible song candidates, but Lily Bell and I immediately fell in love with this one. It was lyrical, poignant, and perfect for our style of music. Nadia’s use of parentheticals to indicate what we say versus what we think was turned into a vocal overlay where the thought was done as a distant etherial soliloquy.
“i ate a bleeding heart so i could love you better(different), so i could remember you decent(forget you cruel), so i could unconditionally see you as beloved part of me(a lesson learned) passed just because(because i’m not cruel to myself) it’s not the right time or place(this love is ruthless).”
Nadia draws from many styles and formats, each poem is different, exciting. None disappoint. I personally enjoy poems without line breaks as it allows me to read through without interruption as stream-of-consciousness. All of the poems come from different places, different aspects, but all mesh and blend while maintaining internal consistency.
At the end of the book are a series of notes, like the answers at the end of a textbook. But solve Nadia’s word puzzles first before you look at the answers. Appreciate the ebb and flow of words, the modulating tone, and the clarity. This collection is like a meandering river, flowing different ways through different terrains, but always the same river.
at the water’s edge by Nadia Gerassimenko can be purchased at Rhythm & Bones Press and will soon be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
About the author
Nadia Gerassimenko is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine and proofreader at Red Raven Book Design. She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade, a poet and writer by choice, a moonchild and nightdreamer by spirit. Nadia self-published her first chapbook Moonchild Dreams (2015). at the water’s edge is her second chapbook.
Follow Nadia on Twitter.