I am extremely proud to announce the publication of my first chapbook, Celeris, as the first title in Fog Machine's chapbook series. Zachary Cosby and I have been quietly collaborating on this pocket-sized pony for months, and I couldn't be happier with how she turned out.
The poems in this mini-collection are all about surviving the emotional violences of someone I once loved very much. I wrote many of them while still tethered to that very toxic relationship, as a way to rescue myself from harm as it was happening. The photograph on the front cover is of two of my dearest friends running across a snowy beach towards the surf at Race Point in Provincetown, MA. I never thought a picture I made would end up on a book cover. At the time the picture was taken, my depression was so intense I didn't see myself making it through the rest of the year.
Celeris is my love letter to anyone who's ever had to hold themselves together as someone close to them tried desperately to tear them apart. Here are some kind words about the work:
Unrelenting and unapologetic, these poems call forth the grisly humanity of surviving those who most want to see us caged. Muted. Subjugated. Gone. This collection speaks—howls—to any among us who has had to fight for our own voice. Our sanity. Our worth. From stark confessions most of us cannot bear to utter: “yes, I’ve ignored / the warping seams” to the bleak truths most of us cannot bear to witness: “home is where / you held me down,” O’Neill here not only chases away the beast, but chases after liberation. This text is a holy conquer. Elegant also in its craft, with expertly broken lines and mind-bending layouts, each page of Celeris offers a surprise in technique and dexterity. O’Neill is boldly cutting an unimagined new path through lyricism. How fortunate we are for this voice, this mettle.
Emily O'Neill's poems are a resilient hum. Both grief and beauty are two rivers converging into a much larger, braver body of water. I like a poem that confronts fear, loneliness, and romance with the same deft touch. O'Neill is a master of this, perfected in these poems. Animals come to life in startling and new ways, the body exists as something greater, larger than the imagination often allows it to be. Through the giving of this life, every moment is palpable. O'Neill writes: "I woke up on fire / which is to say drenched in a way I prayed for / but never expected to arrive," and a sudden warmth will fill any room you are lucky enough to be in, holding these words.
Emily O’Neill’s poems are the sanest fever dreams. A constellation in a velvet-black sky, Celeris is both haunting and profoundly corporeal. The light we’re seeing is long gone, impossibly ahead of us, an ancient thing. It is the ghost of sweat and alcohol, of saltwater and neon lights. “I’m only just beginning to tell it,” O’Neill says. Please don’t stop.
Celeris is available online from Amazon and Powell's. For review copies, please get in touch via my contact form.