Publication Date:  March 1, 2021
Paperback, 64 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-77-9

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$19.50 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below

Samantha DeFlitch
earned her MFA from the
University of New Hampshire,
where she is the Associate
Director of the Connors Writing
Center. Her work has appeared in
The Missouri Review,
Appalachian Review
, On the
, and Rust+Moth, among
others, and she is the 2018
recipient of the Dick Shea
Memorial Award for Poetry, as
judged by Shelley Girdner.
Confluence is her first book.

Originally from a small town
outside of Pittsburgh, she
currently lives in Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, and is working
on her second collection with the
help of her corgi, Moose.
The confluence in the title of this debut collection from Samantha DeFlitch describes
the meeting of three rivers, the Monongahela and Allegheny which come together at
Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. The three sections of her book are named for these rivers,
and there are many poems of place here, the author’s home turf, its backroads and
bridges, state lines, amusement parks, a town called Zelienople, even Pittsburgh itself,
depicted most provocatively as a city of “accidental lesbians.”

But as a gas station attendant says when she answers where she is from,
Nobody lives
in Pittsburgh
, an observation that shifts the register from the physical to the psyche,
and to a different sort of confluence, the way in which we are all products of every-
thing that has come before and come together to form our lives. DeFlitch depicts this
in the construction of her poems. There are many recurring images and motifs, of
oranges and blackbirds, dogs, pierogis, gas stations, concern over the aging of parents,
of aging herself, of a “boy named John” who “put a bullet in his head” because he
didn’t want to grow old – and of folding chairs that turn up everywhere, such a
brilliantly efficient exemplar of the temporary. She repeats words, lines, even nearly
entire poems, and in this manner her poems resemble merging waters, full of ripples,
eddies, swirls, back currents of detritus, endlessly forming and reforming over time
and space.

The book opens with a striking and disturbing dreamlike scene of peeling an orange to
find within it an endless succession of rotten oranges, a surreal suggestion of a world
composed of decay, giving way to a swirl of blackbirds over a horizon, a lake over-
flowing a dam, a chaos of interwoven imagery. That unsettled and unsettling vision
informs this entire collection, a confluence of currents which DeFlitch must navigate
in her life journey from “today-woman to someday-woman.”  “Tell me,” she asks at
one point, “am I holy / or just alone?”  The answer, of course, for her and for us all,

But the final poem begins with the equally arresting fact that a pig cannot raise its
head to see the sky unassisted, which prompts DeFlitch to conclude

    Earthbound is probably
    better. We all start
    getting ideas when we
    look up, and the pigs,
    they always seemed so
    pleased where they were,
    rooting in soft earth.
    No need to look up for God
    when the holy was there,
    beneath their trotters….

What begins in chaos ends in hope:  we have, and we are, all that we need. “I have
what it takes to be average,” she declares.  Perhaps; but not where her poetry is
concerned – in that, she is exceptional.

Praise for Samantha DeFlitch & Confluence

In these poems, you’ll find grace and gritty miracles in the unlikeliest of places:
laundromats, gas stations, pig pens, the streets of Pittsburgh. The electricity of deep
feeling and hard-won honesty hums through the entire book, sometimes in fireworks,
sometimes in the faint charge of faraway lightning. Each poem shines on its own. And
there are plenty of very different subjects. It’s not like the book is about one thing.
It’s about earth and heaven and everything in between. And yet at the same time, the
book feels so whole, the poems, very quietly, speaking to each other, giving sparks
and stars to each other. The way the poems pay attention to their neighbors, so to
speak, is what fills the book with such painful grace, miracles that are gritty and raw.
It is perfect in what seems to be so effortless, the beautiful voice, the way Samantha
sees and then says the world. I will be reading and rereading this book for the rest of
my life. Buy this book for the people you love. Maybe also for the people you don’t
love. It will give them hope.

                    —Mekeel McBride, author of
Dog Star Delicatessen

These are poems of visiting the outskirts—the edges of rooms, deserts, amusement
parks and cities. They’re about never fitting in and never knowing how to be in the
moment, the reverberations of grief refusing to let us settle down. So what a surprise
then, that
Confluence also offers much in the way of consolation. Turns out that along
the peripheries is still plenty of wonder: oranges inside of oranges and transportive
passage, if you find the right bridge. Never belonging to one place means the
possibility of arriving elsewhere, perhaps in time to decode the wild scrawls left in the
dirt under an ocotillo tree or the rune-writing of hair and white sheets wrapping a
sleeping woman. More than anything else is the promise here: we can be hurt, deeply
injured, “split boned,” even, and still, miraculously, also be fine.

                    —Shelley Girdner, author
You Were That White Bird

Pittsburgh is where the metaphysical East Coast really starts to end and where the
Midwest begins to start, America’s true subconscious. In Samantha DeFlitch’s terrific
debut Pittsburgh is a liminal ghost world made a place of transformation and
possibility by way of exile and loneliness. Only Pittsburgh can be more than  
Pittsburgh, as Jack Gilbert taught us. DeFlitch has taken the lesson to heart. Only the
10,000 varieties of homelessness will allow the magic to enter your life—she knows
this. That’s the trade-off. The results are soulful and quickening.

                    —David Rivard, author of
Poetry by
Cover artwork by Connie DeFlitch, used by permission