Poetry in Progress

Within Walking Distance, by Ellie Altman. Illustrated by Emily Kalwaitis. (chapbook manuscript)

This chapbook manuscript examines the intricacies of small-town living from the perspective of a poet and her faithful dog. The poems grapple with an aging woman’s sense of belonging in her environment, as she oscillates between feeling at home and feeling like an outsider. The themes are compelling for their familiarity as common occurrences in every neighborhood—aging at home, encounters at the dog park, conversations over coffee, and welcoming the change of seasons. Within Walking Distance is an artistic collaboration between the poet and a local visual artist, both of whom live in the same small town. Through pairings of poem and painting, this chapbook manuscript captures a vivid sense of place with equal parts sincerity and irony, foreboding and wonder.

Thin as Air, by Ellie Altman. (chapbook manuscript)

In Thin as Air, the poet confronts her underlying fear that, one day, she will become so slender and spare, take up so little space, that she might just disappear. These poems deal with the emotional complexities around body image, aging, eating habits, and womanhood. But there is joy here in the idea of smallness too—the small moments and little things that make each day worth the trouble of dancing through. On the underside of every struggle, every questioning, is the soft, persistent glow of hope as these poems embrace twilight as the perfect time for rebirth—her slow unraveling and shrinking making way for a metamorphosis.