My second chapbook, The Ocean Between Us, was published in October 2017 by Backbone Press.
The Ocean Between Us is a 25-poem chapbook divided into two sections: Puerto Rico poems and Florida poems. The journey begins with a brief visit back to Puerto Rico that brings back many memories of my childhood spent there. I’m the daughter of an immigrant and an islander whose ancestors also immigrated to their respective homelands. Within every generation of my family there came a decision: to leave or to stay, and my ancestors always chose to leave, for their own sake and for their children’s. From this restless heritage I derived a curious lack of home sense—I’ve always been neither one thing nor another, neither native nor alien. These poems are an attempt to gather all these emotions together into a cohesive whole—to define what we mean by “home” and to highlight that perhaps it’s the ocean between that really matters: that ever-changing, ever-the-same body that divides us and yet also unites us into a single body.
From my writing diary:
On 8/14/17 while I was sitting in a torrential rain trapped in my car, I checked my email and found out Backbone Press had accepted my chapbook, The Ocean Between for publication!!!! They had told me I was a finalist but I really didn’t expect it.
This happened right around my deceased father's birthday and coincidentally I had dedicated the first part (Puerto Rico poems) to him and my mom. The publication came out right after the anniversary of my meeting Jim, to whom I had dedicated the 2nd half (Florida poems)! In between, right when I should have been promoting the sales and obtaining blurbs, Jim was hospitalized with an ischemic stroke caused by undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. The Backbone Press editors were very kind and understanding to me during this stressful time.
Editor Crystal Simone Smith designed the cover, using an abstract image available on the web.
Editor Daniel Romo provided a blurb:
Beatriz Fernandez artfully weaves together dazzling imagery and alluring sounds to create concrete visions of Puerto Rico, Florida, and a geography of loss. With the ability to use the perfect words to describe imperfect times, she poses questions that pierce the human spiritMy fellow chapbook writer, Faisal Mohyuddin, whose chapbook, The Riddle of Longing, was chosen for publication along with mine, was also very kind and supportive. Fortunately for both of us, he won a major international award, the Sexton Prize for Poetry, for his first full length book, The Displaced Children of Displaced Children, about the same time!
The Ocean Between Us
Table of Contents
I. Puerto Rico poems
• Calle del Cristo, Old San Juan
• Poem for my father
• Mother’s bracelet
• Fourth grade dance
• Mother re-gifts
• Parkinson’s at 60
II. Florida Poems
• In the flesh
• Jury duty
• In the shadow of the Miami Metrorail overpass
• Demo session at Florida’s Newport Guitar Festival
• Late night shift
• Twilight on a College Campus at 50
• Ghazal upon Hearing of a Mutual Friend’s Death
• Sestina for the Poet and the Madman
• The Guy with a Bike
• Bahia Honda Beach Conch
• In the garden