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Sixteen Rivers Press is pleased to announce the April 2015 release of Alkali Sink, an 80-page book of poems by Stella Beratlis.

Book Description: In Alkali Sink, Stella Beratlis’s debut poetry collection, themes of family, loss, and the natural world weave together to create a universe of dichotomies at once dangerous and intimate, walking the line between the catastrophic and the sublime. Beratlis’s poems, rooted in her family’s Greek culture and the culture of California’s Central Valley, deftly maneuver between worlds as familiar and exotic as the mustard greens her immigrant mother gathers along an interstate highway. These poems transform ordinary acts—bird-watching, cooking, taking a road trip—into extraordinary ones. With its startling imagery and touches of wry humor, Alkali Sink brings us an exciting and original new poetic voice.


“In her poem ‘Vitreous Detachment,’ Stella Beratlis asks ‘How do I know?’ In Alkali Sink, a book that is at once sly and precise, honest and unique, Beratlis’s faith in both the interior and exterior worlds can be trusted enough to believe she can answer: with ‘the names of things and their pulpy centers.’ This is a poet in love with the dirt and the lamb, the armored car and the terrible sadness, with chaos and linear thought—everything that might ‘illuminate the several darknesses of the heart’ and the ‘multiplicity of the selves’ within a soul.” —Julia Levine, author of Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, winner of the Northern California Book Award, 2015.

“Alkali Sink reads like ‘a locomotive / speeding through a native West / changing the scale of my earth.” Central California races toward Greece, memory races toward reality, old age races toward youth, but the poems take their time, too, the way trains do, and I can peer into backyards and orchards and used-car lots as I go. At first I was here and now I am there, and the world I see is different because of how these poems moved me. Stella Beratlis has written a beautiful book.” —Camille T. Dungy, author of Smith Blue and Suck on the Marrow,  winner of an American Book Award, a California Book Award silver medal, and the Northern California book award.

“Stella Beratlis writes unforgettable poems that stir inside you long after you’ve finished reading them. Alkali Sink is simultaneously domestic and wild, urban and rural, full of surprises and wisdom. Your axis may shift after reading this remarkable book. Beratlis is a fierce talent whose beautiful mind encompasses the land, the open road, the kitchen window, and the heart's inconstancies. Her first full-length collection is one of the best debuts I have read.” —Lee Herrick, author of This Many Miles from Desire and Gardening Secrets of the Dead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stella Beratlis grew up in a Greek-American family in Northern California. Her work has appeared in Quercus Review, Penumbra, Song of the San Joaquin, California Quarterly, and otherjournals, as well as in the anthology The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems from the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010). She is coeditor of the collection More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets (Quercus Review Press, 2011). Beratlis is a librarian in Modesto, where she lives with her daughter. This is her first collection of poems.

Find ALKALI SINK by Stella Beratlis at Sixteen Rivers Press.

Hometown paper Modesto Bee did a sweet preview of my book launch reading on April 8, 2015. 

Michael Dennis reviewed Alkali Sink in Today's Book of Poetry, April 23, 2015. 

Read a review of Alkali Sink in, 2016. 

Dana Koster, magical human being and author of the recently-published collection Binary Stars gives Alkali Sink a shoutout in The Collagist, August 2015. Thanks, Dana! 

Jeff Jardine of The Modesto Bee did a write-up on the occasion of my being appointed Modesto's poet laureate for 2016-18. 






From Alkali Sink


All the Clothes She Has Ever Sewn

Look back at this chunky lace scene:

this holy toile that shades off, flaxen,

at the edges—

a mottled view through pinhole



Make elaborate;

trim and adorn skeletons and

fade them into translucence;

onion skin, papers to be worn.

Erase the bony edges

and celebrate the marrow,

the sorrow, Theotokos—

with convictions in organdy

and satin and a belief in metallic sin.

O she who gives birth to pleats,

to ribboned seams and silky sundries, to panels

and heart-sore tears in the lace, whose thread

bunches and who starts again

from the zigzag edge,

from every beginning to almost-finished 

loves: only she is worthy

of these little squares

scissored with gusto; 

only she makes the cut.

Two Roads interview with Modesto Poet Laureate Ed Bearden.