A Brief Family History of Drowning
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Winner of the 2018 Sonder Press Chapbook Competition, Bryce Emley’s A Brief Family History of Drowning, is a haunting, delicate ode to family, gracefully charting the weathered wash of a shared past salted with the sting of loss and longing. From a father’s stroke, to the death of a mother and a brother’s incarceration, this collection of works, some essays, others less easily defined, chronicles the vast and enduring weight of grief, and the indelible tether of blood shared. Emley’s prose is exquisite, precise and masterfully crafted. Water permeates these pages, language ebbs and flows, swells, engulfs. A Brief Family History of Drowning renders in brilliant relief the weighted voyage of a son searching for a path through the rising swells of the present and desperate undertow of the past.
"Bryce Emley’s A Brief Family History of Drowning gives a sharp, vivid meditation on grief. And it does so with the beauty necessary to balance such extraordinary loss—a father’s ability to think and speak fully after a stroke, a brother’s freedom after being imprisoned, a mother’s life. With lyrical language, Emley renders each moment with urgency and grace." - Toni Jensen, author of Carry
“In this powerful and wise collection of prose poetry, Bryce Emley explores fullness and emptiness, drowning and praying, grief and rivers and crossings. A Brief Family History of Drowning is a moving portrait of caregiving and the way that work can both strengthen and unmake us. “How can we ever make it back?” Emley asks. These poems are one answer.” – Belle Boggs, author of The Gulf
“A Brief Family History of Drowning reads like an already fading fever dream—shifting and curving, sinking and surfacing to explore how the experience of grief is liquid and ungraspable in its uncontainable nature. Bryce Emley brilliant blends the horror and mystery of the natural world
alongside the experience of being human—the loss and love of it—and sets humanity back alongside the other animals though young and naïve in our unknowing. A beautiful book as gorgeously crafted as it is slight.” – Angela Pelster, author of Limber