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In the Wake—like river water mingles silt, fish, and stone—blends narratives of loss, memory, and environment into one. It rages, whispers, and stills as it flows in and out of prose poetry and lyric. It is a hybrid work that centers the Willamette river—or memory of the Willamette river—as its characters once centered it in their lives, examining the nature of friendship, time, grief, love, and to a certain extent, obsession…and how, ultimately, all of these things dissolve.

Out 25 October 2024

In the Wake Poems by Ariel Machell


The shifts and turns of a river’s flow mirror the vagaries of memory in these sensual and meditative poems of Ariel Machell’s  In the Wake.  Memory “likes having a reason to hide,” she says, and we follow her as she delicately navigates offerings of the present moment, while lingering echoes of a “far-off song” accompany her.  Machell is masterful at showing the shimmering quirkiness of the everyday and how it consoles, even as her quest might lead toward unsettling discoveries.  This is a gorgeous debut collection of poems.

Molly Bendall, author of Watchful


An ode to a Pacific Northwest river, an elegy to a past relationship, and a philosophical exploration of memory, these poems are drenched in beauty, heart-break and myth. How do we overcome the distances between people? How is our experience of the natural world always, necessarily, an experience of loss? Written in short gleaming prose pieces, like rocks dredged up from a riverbed, Machell’s voice is immediate and alive from the first page. This is a poet who is not afraid to express the unknowability of the future. “What do you believe?” a lover asks, to which the speaker answers, “That the universe is vast.”

Austen Leah Rose, author of Once, This Forest Belonged to a Storm


Compelling and remarkably honest, In the Wake investigates the sharper edges of our unique emotional landscapes in a series of fragmented, exciting poems that explore both the strengths and frailties of the human condition in its varied aspects—personal identity, grief, fractured relationships, the ghosts of the past, transformation, and slowly mending hearts. Weaving together intimate narratives filled with secrets, hardships, curiosities, and an ever-present ache, Machell tenderly renders heartbreaking narratives in which we all reach out to be loved, to be understood, and to finally feel safe.

John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another

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