Publication Date:  July 1, 2020
Paperback, 88 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-62-5

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$21.50 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Gwen Frost is the author of this
book, and (so far) no other books.
After winning first-place in the
Oregon slam-poetry competition
Verselandia in 2015, Gwen studied
poetry and political theory at Western
Washington Honors College.
Somewhere between the Stem & the
is her first full-length
publication. Gwen is now living in
Portland, Oregon where she is
working on her next
book, and taking a deep breath.
Somewhere between the stem and the fruit is that paradoxical nexus, the point that is
both connection and separation, from where you came, to what you are becoming, the
scene of the severing, the letting go, the stepping away, the necessary violence and
the radical isolation required to be oneself, wholly. And, perhaps, holy. “The poems
are written / before they occur to me,” Gwen Frost declares at the conclusion of her
shattering first collection. “Something about a scar, something about a hymn.” She
says that poetry saved her life, making this volume a document of that on-going
process of healing, and a gift and a hope for others on the same journey.

Foremost, it is a document of a contemporary young woman negotiating her way
through a perilous world. “Turns out, there are a million different ways to kill a girl,”
she observes in “Watch,” a poem that references Hitchcock’s advice to “torture the
women” in order to make a popular film, and by extension the misogynistic voyeurism
that fetishizes violence against women. This book documents more than a few of
those ways, and nowhere more chillingly than in the poem “sticking heads in the
sand,” in which the query “How was your summer?” follows up almost casually with
another question, “What was your rapist’s name?” In the inventory of anticipated
experience for a young woman, “summer love and sexual assault / adventures and
attacks” go hand in hand, “heads pushed into sand” both an act of violence and an
act of willful forgetting.

Gwen Frost won’t forget, and won’t let us forget. She is fiercely self-examining and
self-revealing, admitting her chief fear is “what I am capable of, I am afraid / that I
could kill a man, / and I am afraid / that I would like it.” In lieu of this (perhaps
understandable) act of violence, she exorcises and expiates through her verse. In the
process, she might save us along with herself. She concludes that she “will write one,
unshareable poem, / and I will let it die with me, simple and / forever, folded neatly in
my throat.” This is her one prediction that we must hope is untrue, for we need her to
write many, many more poems, and to share them for many years to come.

Praise for Gwen Frost & Somewhere Between the Stem & the Fruit

Gwen Frost’s Somewhere Between the Stem & the Fruit is a startling, gut-gasping,
visceral debut collection. Her work sings of ferocious and tender spaces, of “moments
of wet wings,” “rows of rind teeth,” and the power of poetry as resistance and
radical feminist joy. In this book, language swirls with gorgeous grotesquery and
sharp lines: “when the crows come to eat my eyes out / I want you to know that I
probably fell asleep / with the window open.” Truly one of the most talented new
poets out there today, I keep returning to Frost’s poems with kaleidoscopic curiosity
and fruiting awe. For, “the heart of the poem is the echo” and
Somewhere Between
the Stem & the Fruit
echoes forth in infinite universes.

              —Jane Wong, author of
Overpour & How Not to Be Afraid of Everything

Gwen Frost’s Somewhere Between the Stem & the Fruit is an exploration of the
“lineage of pain / in how we are made.” Frost’s poems deep-dive into death, unafraid
to note that “someone must body the blame” for the darkness we carry. Yet here is
the clever seduction, the bravado, the verve of these poems: “the lesson reads in
reverse.” By looking at death, we understand the faith and relationships we birth in
our lives, and are all the sweeter for it.

                                         —Carly Joy Miller, author of
Ceremonial & Like a Beast

Poetry, writes Gwen Frost, is “direct eye-contact with the present,” and she gazes
deep in these poems at the beauties and terrors before her at every moment. “In
a true effort to be unbreakable” and “holding holy tales of Possible,” Frost speaks
fearlessly back—as she puts it—“unto, into, the wordless blunder that fear does
become.” These poems—gutsy, formally inventive, powerfully vulnerable, vulnerably
powerful—in their urgent revelations and startling dislocations, give us a life tinged
with the elusive and possibly impossible: “I can’t hear my newborn baby / but she
smells like the sacrificial ashes / from a bonfire puzzle of corsets / I will burn her a
bridge to cross over.” We cross that bridge on every blazing and rebirthing page.

    —Bruce Beasley, author of
All Soul Parts Returned, Theophobia, & other books
the Stem
the Fruit
Poems by
Gwen Frost
Cover artwork by Leah Cromett
Author photo by Anna Del Savio