at the water's edge
A collection of poems about trauma and all the ways it can manifest in the body - be it emotional, medical, sexual - and also about forgiveness, finding the strength to forgive others and yourself; disassociating from yourself in an act of discovery and healing. This book brings an eye to all the ways someone who is traumatized can work to heal and feel again through the help of rituals. The author finds her voice and the courage to speak through creating another persona to speak for her, thus discovering the power in finding your own voice and in the strength to forgive yourself.
"Nadia Gerassimenko’s poetry chapbook, at the water’s edge (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019) just came out, and it’s a wonderfully crafted exploration on loneliness in the wake of illness, trauma, turmoil, and self-acceptance."
Joanna C. Valente: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Nadia Gerassimenko: Everything was hard to some degree because much of it is deeply personal. I had to take a break on occasion, to deal with my emotional or physical well-being or focus on a different project, which is why it took me four years to write it. I have Dolores, a brave protagonist weaving in throughout the book, who held my hand when things got especially tough.
"Old people where I’m from are fond of saying “water only flows downhill.” There’s some peace and clarity to realizing the uselessness of fighting against that flow, of struggling against it upstream and into the past. The poems in Nadia Gerassimenko’s at the water’s edgeare diamond-clear in this same admonition. They build toward their point, admission by admission, one revelation after the next. These lines are created under heavy pressure from memories steeped in pain and abuse. When they are finally freed, poem by poem, they flow out in the the most amazing array of forms and deliveries. Prose poems, tender lyrics, monologues, secrets, nightmares, promises, oaths—at the water’s edge sings in full choir, sometimes in a dark key, sometimes hoarse with rage, sometimes tender with acceptance, but always full of conviction. Because the voice of these poems is so open, so honest, it reclaims all pain, all power. This voice, these poems “open a new door” to a future without broken days. There is, here, a steady flow forward without need of looking back. The gift of this wonderful collection is its forgiveness without forgetting, its redemption in place of regret. And because of this generosity, I cannot recommend these poems and this poet enough to all readers.
— Jack B. Bedell,
Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019
“...it’s not wrong to love deeply
feel vulnerable for others...”
this beautiful collection meanders between vigil and slumber. we are encouraged to take repose in her pains, in her reverence. she is innocence whispered, and woman endured. a diamond and a petal.
she matures directly in front of us, unassisted.
blooming and withering in the same line. i am reminded of what it must feel like to prick at your veins and suck at the blood. the taste of copper lingering in the mouth.
gently she chants“...i butchered my hair today asymmetrically, but it waves like vines, like freedom.”
a witch-mother at whatever age. nurturing her womb, as if she is in it. clawing. gnawing.
her mutation. her cunning. her softness. all inclusive.
she is honey, flower and Spring.
a merciless warmth swallowed. thorns and citrus in the eyes. warm oil on eyelids. a pliable rebirth."
— Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins,
author of Things Outside, Wayward, Zenith & Ablution
"at the water's edge is a hymn in continuum. The engaging topography of this book explores varied forms of violence borne by a body. The poems are revelations of compelling regressions. In this journey of engaging with the strength in these poems, we ween the body a sacred space. This offering includes a symphony of poetic forms and encapsulates sensitivity as a reclamation of space. An essential book."
— Sneha Subramanian Kanta,
author of Land: Body / Ocean: Muscle (dancing girl press),
Charles Wallace Fellow, University of Stirling
"Nadia Gerassimenko’s at the water's edge is a powerful reclamation of a woman’s voice: through a skillful weaving of original and found sources, the reader is asked to witness illness and trauma, but also a rebirth through language which haunts and echoes. These poems ask you to read them again and again."
— Sarah Nichols,
author of She May Be a Saint
“at the water’s edge is an intricate assortment of pieces that shine in their reflections on past/present and you/me. With Dolores guiding the structure of the collection, the reader is steered through a journey of vulnerability and reclaiming of the self, navigating through the icy waters of relationships and traumas past. With surgical precision, Nadia Gerassimenko crafts skilled work that is all too important and right on pulse with today’s #MeToo movement. Her openness and bravery should be applauded- it’s not just sheer emotion that drives this book, but the way Gerassimenko pays attention to details and uses them to come full circle is spellbinding. The duality that she presents in her poems is so well done that it begs for a second reading, and the reader will be richly rewarded. This is a fine addition to Rhythm and Bones’ blossoming lineup."
— December Lace
"One of the first things to notice about at the water’s edge is the orthography. No capital letters appear in this, except the author’s name and the press information. This smallness carries throughout, recalling the title. What water are we on the edge of? Sometimes, it seems we are at a summertime lake, seeing a girl with her grandfather. At other times, we stand on the bank of a rushing river, not sure whether dolores, a girl who ripples through the book, will jump, and whether she means to swim, to drown, or to hope for rescue.
The gradations of “freedom comes in gradations” ripple back to the hiding in “dolores confesses” (perhaps the best of the poems, though it’s hard to judge, as none stand in isolation). The poem “at the water’s edge” from which the book takes its title presents us with the water as both a frozen river and as the narrator. The narrator is no longer at the water’s edge: we are, watching her. An act of voyeurism that is both cathartic and helpless. After this poem, the book shifts, with more experimental forms in the pieces that come after.
Throughout, the ideas of self, mother, and child are ambiguously mixed. Taken in isolation, each of the poems is interesting, though some are vague enough to be better read as sound poems than for meaning. Taken together in the order they’re presented, this chapbook fulfills the promise of its title. We stand at the water’s edge, witnesses to a liminal space of becoming and unbecoming, of being born and giving birth.
Or, to speak less poetically, more directly—something that happens rarely in the chapbook—I wish I could love the hell out of this chapbook, but I can’t. The hell is indelibly there, and no amount of love can remove it. I wish I could love the hell out of this chapbook, but I’ll settle for loving the book, both hell and high water."
— Chad Musick
Nadia Gerassimenko is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine & proofreader at Red Raven Book Design. She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade, a poet & writer by choice, a moonchild & 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.