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. Below Gerassimenko, who is the editor and founder of Moonchild Magazine, speaks about the work and some of her favorite things. You can also read a poem from the book below (and a few others we had published here previously).
Did you write this collection to any kind of music?
In stillness. I can't write to music.
Describe your favorite meal.
It's a naughty one. Poutine: fries, gravy, and melted cheese. I eat that only on rare occasion. Last time I ate it, several weeks ago, my body hated me for a week.
Choose three books that you've always identified with?
There's only one at the moment. My, My, My, My, My by Tara Hardy. I just can't stop crying reading it, there's so much I can relate to as someone living with chronic illness, particularly Lyme Disease. Reading about it the first time was a cathartic moment for me and an emotionally healing one because it spilled into the literary world and because it made me feel less alienated and alone in my struggling.
Choose one painting that describes who you are. What is it?
Et in Arcadia ego by Nicolas Poussin. Poussin's work is very cryptic, including this painting which has many different interesting interpretations. I'd like to see it as someplace secluded and serene, an ideal place and state for an introverted recluse like me.
What’s a gif or meme that you relate to?
My facial expression these days. When I'm happy, it's the same, but with a cringe-smile.
What do you imagine the apocalypse is like? How would you want to die?
There will be a zombie outbreak. I'm already ready.
By a vampire's "kiss" (and become a vampire myself, please, I already feel and behave like one anyways).
If you could only watch three films for the rest of your life, what would they be?
What We Do in the Shadows
The Vampire's Kiss
The Lost Boys
Uh-oh, I just realized where this is heading...
If I may squeeze in a show, it would forever be The Office (and What We Do in the Shadows and The Good Place...sorry).
Where do you find inspiration lately?
Peculiar moments invoke inspiration; when my mind is a blank while I'm showering or preparing a meal or about to sleep, words appear out of nowhere and tumble out of me. Nature, a work of art, something moving in a film or a show inspire me as well.
Where did you write most of your book?
Anywhere where my desktop was, haha!
What was something surprised you recently?
I had a tiny cricket get into my home somehow. It was loud! A tiny little creature with so much voice, it's amazing.
What do you carry with you at all times?
My gluten enzymes. It's a risk navigating the outside world as someone with Celiac when almost everywhere isn't Celiac-friendly.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. What works and what doesn't? What doesn't, but you keep trying it anyway?
Funnily enough, I start with the beginning of a poem, then the end, and only then I compose the middle. Somehow it works out! Afterwards I edit it only a few times and forget about it. Sometimes I have a thought I think has potential, but I can't seem to continue materializing it further and no matter how hard I try to force it, it just doesn't work. It has happened a lot. Some things just can't be forced.
What are some of your daily rituals or routines?
I must have a cup of coffee. I don't care when, but I must.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
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.
A poem from the collection:
my body is not my body
when i’m held mouth wide open, blood oozing, dreading your extraction of part of my body. i’m only six. i’m not asleep. i never forgot.
i’m eighteen. adult, or so they say. part of my body breaks so more space is filled with you & all you carry. it hurts. in retrospect, it always hurt. it always will.
year forward, i’m in a cold whitewashed room, waiting. you probe & prod part of my body like i’m some dead meat. you show me off to others for kicks. it’s hard to open, to relax. this reflex never passes.
i’m at the age of my own responsibilities, body & otherwise. i’ve learned all there is about my body parts, my body whole. i know what to do. i can’t—you govern my body.
you tell me it’s all in my part of body & there’s nothing you can do. but here, take these pills. they’ll control some parts, for now, as they kill the whole.
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 (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019). Follow Nadia on Twitter.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, No(body), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault. They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes Poetry and the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Them, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente / FB: joannacvalente