New Release–Fractured by Erin R. Britt

That’s right, folks!  Fractured is finally available.  Right now, the only format up is Kindle, but it will become available for paperback in the next few days.


As I mentioned before, Fractured is a collection of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction essays that explore the breakdown of relationships and the breakdown of self within different contexts.  I hope there will be something for everyone within its pages.

I wrote all of these pieces independent of each other, but when I decided to put together a collection, I noticed there was a common thread through all of them.  Some of the pieces I wrote a couple of years ago and some are only a few months old.  I put a lot of myself into everything I create, so if you read and enjoyed Celia, you will likely enjoy this also.

A New Collection is Coming Soon

I have finally finished something new!  In the next few weeks, I will be releasing Fractured.  This is a collection of poetry, creative nonfiction essays, and short stories all revolving around the idea of being…well, fractured.  Sometimes this is meant in the literal breaking of objects.  Sometimes it’s the breaking apart of relationships and of self.

I decided to put this collection together after my son had brain surgery.  I left my teaching position because he had so many appointments to go to and I was missing a lot of classes.  Friends suggested that I create a GoFundMe page (or a page like it) so that people could help me out financially because, let’s face it.  Gas isn’t cheap.  I take my son on a minimum of two appointments a week and I live 25 minutes away from him.  Because I am me, which often translates into more proud than smart, I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t want people to give me money, regardless of how much I needed it, because I didn’t want to feel like a mooch.  So, I started thinking of what I could do to make myself feel less moochy.  That’s when I realized that I had enough material to form a collection and Fractured was born.

I will be self-publishing, but don’t let that scare you away from grabbing a copy.  You can be sure that several eyes have passed over this.  It will be a quality publication.

Poem 8–We Have Met Our End At Last

The other day, while browsing my Facebook news feed, I saw a link posted by two of my friends.  It was for this:


Yes, this is really a thing.

One person posted this ironically and the other posted this in earnest.  Let’s look at the most obvious problem with this shirt.

When you state something, you imply that the opposite is also true.  For example, if you say, “Drunk drivers kill people,” you are also saying, “Sober drivers do not kill people.”  So, when a shirt says, “Breathe easy. Don’t break the law,” it is also saying, “If you break the law, then you deserve to have difficulty breathing (or to not breathe at all).”  What constitutes breaking the law, then?  Well, lots of things, as it happens.  Jaywalking.  Turning on red when it’s posted you can’t do that.  Failing to use your turn signal.  Performing oral sex.  No, I’m not making that last one up.  In Indiana, oral sex is illegal, regardless of whether you are married to your partner or not.

Are any of these things worthy of capital punishment?  Please tell me you’re all saying, “No, don’t be ridiculous” right now.  And yet, according to this shirt, these people are not obeying the law and so they deserve to have lethal force used against them.

“But Erin,” you might be saying, “let’s get real here.  It’s only talking about ‘big’ crimes, like killing people or resisting arrest.”  Fair enough.  Let’s look at that.

James Eagan Holmes was arrested outside of a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado after he went inside and killed 12 people and injured 70 more people.  He was arrested.  He wasn’t shot to death.  He wasn’t choked to death in a prohibited maneuver.  He. was. arrested.

Eric Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes.  Seriously, that’s what they thought he was doing.  That’s not a capital offense.  Even if Garner had resisted to the point where an officer felt his safety was threatened, are there not better ways to resolve that situation?  The short answer is, “Of course there are,” and that’s why people are so upset and why #Icantbreathe is even a thing.  Side note: when you become a police officer, you accept that public safety becomes more important than your own and that your job entails added risks because of this.  If you don’t want to be in danger, don’t become a police officer.  I don’t want to be in danger.  This is why I’m not a cop.  Seriously.  Lethal force should be your final option, not your first response.

When looking for inspiration for this last poem, I decided to try doing an erasure poem from a news story.  The news story I chose had to do with Michael Brown and Eric Garner.


When The Wild West Was Yesterday

Who is telling the truth?

Have faith in military zones

riot gear,

tear gas,

rubber bullets—

that they can tell

the difference.


Jack up the conflict—

armored cars,

gas masks,

SWAT gear,


Don’t release the name

arrest the journalists.


Respond with solidarity

explain the resonance

add another hashmark

to the genre

of Black Death.

“I can’t breathe.”




Poem 7–When There Was Nothing Left

So, a few weeks ago, I posted about the absolute clusterfuck that was my life.  Of course, whilst I was dealing with all of that, I also had a poem due for workshop.  That was one of the most difficult poems I’ve had to write because Life had sucked everything out of me through a bendy straw.  I had nothing left to give, so this is what I wrote.



here in this space

punctuation is an exercise


in futility


and getting out of bed

becomes an act of




Poem 6–Hold On To Your Butts

This next poem is something I have never even considered attempting before.  I wrote a sestina.  I may not ever do this again.  I’m not even going to lie about it.  The assignment was to write a sonnet or a sestina, and since I’ve written sonnets in the past, I went with the sestina.  You might want to grab a beverage for this one.


The Order Includes Both Extant and Extinct Species

She held the baby turtle in her hand,

leaving fingerprints over the shell’s braille.

The turtle, in response to the  potential conflict,

pulled in its limbs and prayed for water.

She held it close, knowing that her power

was false—it could have chosen to struggle


even as she could have chosen to struggle

against the insignificance of her own hand.

Life was the mouse that escaped the cat’s power

only to find itself tripping over the braille

of the mousetrap, pinned and begging for water.

In the place where death and life conflict,


what was the point, if not conflict

resolution, of a satisfactory end to the struggle?

The cacti will always plead for water,

spines held aloft like supplicating hands

that rise above the desert braille

with nothing to grasp against the flood’s flashing power.


But interference was outside her power

even as she orchestrated the conflict

of razor blade against skin, scribing braille

apologies to no one who could read them. Her struggle–

to not write more lines with a shaky hand

while watching the sink pool with blood soaked water.


She wondered if a drop of holy water

could infuse in her some divine power.

She held the droplet in her hand,

indistinguishable from tap, a conflict

she had no stake in, so felt no need to struggle

against her senses or the rosary beads raised like braille,


or gooseflesh raised like a braille

scripture, not from divinity but from rain water

laced with laudanum.  The haze is one less struggle

for the turtle to hide from.  It exercised its power

of avoidance until it couldn’t evade the conflict

anymore and shrank itself inside her hand.


She stroked the turtle’s braille and found the power

to place it near the water, end its conflict,

the futile struggle against her hand.


So, what do you think?  Should I attempt more sestinas in the future?

Poem 5–A Trip

For this poem, we were supposed to root it in truth but then make up some of the details.  One of my favorite trips I took as a child was to Whitefish Point in Michigan.  There is a shipwreck museum there and it was the coolest place ever.  One day, I plan to take my boys there so they can experience it, too.

Edmund Fitzgerald Could Have Been My Father

November 10, 1975


We went that summer to pay respect

to the sunken ships of the superior lake


A lighthouse was their headstone—

the ships, themselves, rested in paupers’ graves


Names—on wood, on steel—legible only to fish

in schools that can’t read


The living wanted to study the portraits of the dead

read plaques covered in ridiculously small script


Squinting      squinting      as if the reshaping of their lids

would force some meaning


I much preferred to study the waves—

a deepness that hugged cargo


close to her bottom

I looked past ripples into nothingness


in the nothing I saw myself

This was information best not shared


My brother joined me, asked what I was staring at

I considered all the things I could tell him


metaphors and words that end with –istic

except I was only 12 and I didn’t know


that kindredness had words

He was only 10—the words I didn’t know


held no meaning for him anyway

He asked again–



It is the most honest conversation

we will have.

Poem 4

For this assignment, we were told to channel Noelle Kocot.  However, I was also reading Joe Bolton at the same time, so the end result is a combination of the two, though my professor thinks it’s more Bolton influenced.  Actually, I’m ok with that.  If you haven’t read either of these poets, I would recommend them both.  Kocot is just so weird.  I love it.  Bolton gives me all the feels.  All. The. Feels.  If you can only read one of his poems, please read “The Distance.”  That piece brings me to the brink of tears every time I read it.  It’s my favorite Joe Bolton poem and one of my top ten favorite poems of all time.  Anyway, so at time time I wrote this, I was obsessed with the concept of the starlight we see being from something that ceased to exist billions of years ago.  I mean, if you really stop to think about that, it’s mind blowing.  The voice is a pretty big departure from my usual voice and that was really fun to play with.




They went to the countryside—

attempting to hide from the glaring skyline

Because she wanted to see the stars.

“We didn’t need to come here.”

He saw the stars in her eyes but not

the way her face scrunched at his

Attempted romantics.

“We’re all just clichés—clichés with feet,” she said,

Her way of absolving him.

“Is it a cliché if it’s true?”

She hesitated, a conscious act to spare him, then said,


She looked back to the stars

their cold, dead light a remembrance

Of something long extinguished

their names forgotten.

He looked to her instead of the sky

as though he were Galileo.

She never asked to be heliocentric,

couldn’t shake his orbit.

His racing heart and fevered blood

would be the death of him.

She wanted to care, or at least to feel guilty

for being his source of condemnation.

It would have to be good enough.

She watched the sky and he watched her,

Memorizing her constellations,

basking in her heat,

Never once considering that

her life was starlight.



Poem 3

For this assignment, we were supposed to write about something erotic.  For reasons too numerous to go into here, I’m not really good at that sort of thing.  I was stuck.  So, I went to a friend, explained my problem, and she said, “So why not write about how you can’t write about it?”  Did I mention that this friend is pretty smart?



I tried to write about your lips

overripe like strawberries


But all I could see is lipstick smeared

like cabernet slashes across your face


Your hands drew pictographs

in champagne condensation


Translucent screams for eyes

that look at everything but see nothing


silken ties bound tightly as burlap

–prettiness still chafes —


And the gilded bed is a lie you told yourself

to keep from drowning


The matchstick flared, scratching echoes

in otherwise stillness


The sulfur fucking ozone

thunderclouds behind your eyes


Blind you with lightning flashes in the

rearview mirror as you choke on


Chemicals masquerading as

Sandalwood air freshener


The only connection to actual

wood was the tree shape it assumed.


Your lips are parts of my face

–together we scream


This isn’t hyperbole

This is memoir

Poem 2

Continuing on with my poetry portfolio, this was the second poem I wrote.



He asks if he can go fishing. I imagine him to be Salvador Dali

but there are no tuna here and he has no mustache.

He, who would eat his net gains if I let him.

He, who would throw them back if only I’d help him. But I can’t.

I want to help him as much as he wants to do it himself, but we both fear

those spiny stabbing, dorsal daggers.

The river slaps the dock, a half-hearted sadist

and the only tears are his while

the Bluegill struggles to breathe water

full of salt. It fails. As do we.

The worm is gone and I hope it’s

deep in the belly for the fish’s sake. No one

ever gives a fuck about the worm.

I am no different. A boat comes by and the boy

waves for their attention. They smile, wave back

when what he wanted was their assistance.

I figure out how to free the fish soon after.

It jumps off the dock…I would have thrown it back.

By that, I mean I would have used my foot.

All is well until tomorrow when he asks if he can fish.

The End is Nigh

The end of the semester is nearly upon me, which is both good and bad.  It’s good because I’ll be done.  It’s bad because I still have an 8-10 page paper to write, it’s due tomorrow, and I can’t find the sources I need.  So, whilst I stress over this thing, I thought I would share some of the work I’ve been doing over the semester in poetry workshop.  Here is the first piece.


Naked is One Consideration Under the Orange Tree


She never wanted to let me be—

she constantly molded me

I let her


It was easier to drown in

the tidal wave of her



that washed away every distinction

not clinging desperately to coral skeletons

weary seaweed


Having Faith meant having faith that

I could ignite like citrus and cinnamon

a candle at Christmastime


I couldn’t stop looking at the pictures

Yellowed paper behind yellowed glass

My skin so much paler


from exposure to the sun

memories frozen like fish in a shallow pond

I saw the dangling hook


waited to feel its piercing

taste the penny coated



The wind blows, shaking the trees

oranges sway like tumorous



I take one down, rip the flesh with my teeth

leaving the peels behind



It was pointed out to me that the bulk of my work, whether fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, deals with the structures of power–who has it, who doesn’t, and the conflicts that come from that.  I do focus a lot on interpersonal relationships, but it never occurred to me that it was the power dynamic that I was focusing on.  Hooray for workshops!  So, in this piece, the power dynamic is between two friends.  I’ll post another piece tomorrow.


Enraptured–An Excerpt

So, I’m almost a full month into my grad school experience and I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that this whole thing is horribly overrated.  I’m hoping it gets better once I’m able to start my workshops, but until then, I’m stuck reading more 18th century Gothic romance than I ever wanted to read (which isn’t hard seeing as I don’t want to read any of it).  Not that it’s (all) bad, mind you.  It’s just not my thing.  If I have to study literature, and it appears that I do, I’d rather study post-colonial world literature.

It won’t come as a shock, then, to learn that I haven’t done much in the way of creative writing.  I do a lot of writing for the blog, and for my classes, but nothing much on Enraptured.  Here’s a small excerpt from the book.  Maybe if enough people yell at me to finish it, I’ll get excited about it again the way I was when I started.


The church was full and every light blazed through the windows as the town gathered for service that night.  Tiffany and David, her husband, sat in the front pew in places of honor next to Mrs. Harold.  There was an electric buzz through the crowd, even though everyone, save for Jeanne, was present and accounted for.  The prayer tree had been activated after Tiffany called the pastor earlier that afternoon and by church time everyone knew there would be an announcement made.  There was no music tonight, no opening prayer.  The crowd hushed as Pastor Harold walked onto the stage and took his place behind the podium.  He sat his Bible down unopened and looked out over the faces staring back at him.  For a long moment, he said nothing.  Here and there a person would fidget in the uncomfortable silence, but mostly people quietly stared back at him and waited for the important announcement they knew was coming.  Pastor Harold placed his hand on the Bible’s cover as if to open it.  It was an old book, older than most of the people in town.  His wife nagged him to purchase a new one, one that wasn’t binding-cracked with dog-eared coffee stains, but his Bible was his ally.  He wouldn’t abandon it just for showing signs of aging.  It loomed on the podium like a proud combat veteran, a lone survivor in an ancient war knowing another battle was inevitable.  Pastor Harold removed his glasses with his other hand, and raised his hand from the Bible, rubbing his eyes.  He replaced his glasses and then spoke.

“Brothers and sisters, it is with a heavy heart but also a resounding joy that I’ve called you all here tonight.  The joyful news is that little Jeanne Montgomery has been called to our Heavenly Father through Rapture.  We’ve all had a hand in taking care of Jeanne at one time or another, so it is a credit to us that she was pure and strong enough in her child-like faith to be honored this way.  But we should not be proud!  The joy of this news makes my heart break because she was the only one.  I see you all here tonight because you were not called.  Sin crept in and kept you from being righteous enough to be worthy of God’s call.  I’m here to talk to you tonight because I, too, am flawed.  I’m unworthy to be in the presence of God.  Yet, only God is perfect.  We can mourn our shortcomings but we cannot forget that we are here to do God’s will.  We are not worthy enough to sit at his feet, but we are all still his children and we still have work to do.”

When he finished speaking, he pocketed his glasses and walked off the stage to where his wife was sitting.  Silently, she gave him her hand and he pulled her to her feet.  They walked together to the front door of the church, signaling to the congregation that the service was over.

I Can Hear You

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted any of my own work on here.  The other day when I was getting ready for bed, because it’s always when I’m getting ready for bed, I got an idea.  I’m not entirely happy with the way it looks on the page, but it’s also meant to be spoken, so ideally no one would see the page anyway.  This piece is almost a composite of different conversations I’ve had over the past few months, things I’ve seen posted online, and things I’ve overheard as I’ve went about my way.  The opening quote is something that was actually said to me by a man.  Anyway, here is is.  Feedback is always appreciated.


I Can Hear You

I can hear you.

I see you standing there on the corner with your friends

and I can hear you.

You say, “I’m so sick of hearing about rape culture”

but I’m sick of living in one.

I’m sick of the first words out of your mouth being

“What were you wearing?” and

“Were you drinking?”

instead of

“How can I help you?” and

“Are you ok?”

I’m sick of it being ok to tell me not to get onto an elevator

if I’m alone late at night and a man is already on it but it becomes absurd

to tell a man that if he is on an elevator

in the middle of the night and a woman gets on alone

that he should keep his hands to himself because the burden

is on me to not get raped instead of on you to not rape.

And contrary to the belief of Republican politicians

a rape kit won’t “clean me out” and

my body doesn’t have a “way to shut that whole thing down”

because my vagina doesn’t come equipped

with sperm-fighting ninjas…but it could.

I’m not opposed.

I want to tell you these things.

I want to tell you what it’s like to be a woman in this world today

or even what it’s like to be me in this world today.

Maybe you’ll listen.

Maybe you’ll be willing to meet me

on that cognitive plane where we can discuss this imbalance of responsibility

and brainstorm together how to stop it

so that you can stop hearing about it

and I can stop living it.

Then again, maybe you won’t be willing

to meet me in that place and that rape culture

you’re so sick of hearing about tells me not to speak

because there are four of you and only one of me

and speaking is an invitation.

Even though it’s over 90 degrees with 80% humidity

all anyone will remember is that I was wearing

a pair of shorts and a tank top and that I was alone.

Maybe you will listen but

I’m going to remain silent and keep walking.

After I cross the street.

Paying The Bills

One of the goals I have is being able to support myself and my children with writing.  Now, I’m not going to lie.  When I originally thought this whole thing out, I was picking out who I wanted to play what roles in the movie version of my books.  Just so you know, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

However, I am earning money with my writing, so I will consider this a step in the write direction.  (You see what I did there?)  I’m writing SEO copy for a local business.  It’s very different from the writing I’m accustomed to doing, but it isn’t horrible.  Like anything, it’s going to take me a minute to get into the swing of things, but I’m optimistic.  Of course, there’s still Celia.  I mean, I’m just throwing that out there.  I’m also expecting a round of feedback about Enraptured, so in the next week or so I’ll be back to working on that.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Celia.  This SEO copy isn’t writing itself, you know.

More Fundraising For AWP

Most of you know that I am the webmistress for the Indiana University-South Bend Creative Writing Club.  If you’ve not heard, we are trying to raise funds so we can attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference in late February 2014.  The conference changes cities every year, and this conference will be held in Seattle, Washington.


AWP is a lot like the fortress in Krull. It’s constantly changing locations.

The money we raise will be to help us cover travel expenses and lodging.  We  held a fireworks fundraiser for the 4th of July holiday, but as anyone who lives in Northern Indiana can tell you, the weather refused to cooperate.  Now we’re starting a new fundraising event and you don’t have to live in Northern Indiana to help up out.

Brandy Bohm, Vice-President of the CWC, is holding a Perfectly Posh event from July 22nd until July 28th.  Perfectly Posh is a line of spa and pampering products that are not tested on animals.  Brandy is donating 100% of the proceeds to the AWP fund for the club.  There is a Facebook event page if you would like more information and you can go the the Perfectly Posh website to see their catalogue of products.  They make excellent gifts, as well.  If you are not local, Brandy will ship your orders to you.  This is a one week only event and every penny counts, so please consider pampering yourself or someone you love (or yourself and someone you love) and help this great group of writers attend this professional conference.  After the event closes, we will randomly select one person to receive an autographed copy of my book Celia from Rainstorm Press.  We will choose two other names to receive 3 Celia bookmarks.  They’re high quality and very shiny.  You’ll like them.  Celia has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon.

We appreciate all of your help.  And as a little added incentive, if we reach our goal as a result of this event, I will randomly select one person to be a character in my current work-in-progress, Enraptured.


I’ve mentioned before that I’m unofficially taking a screenwriting class this summer and into next fall that will require me to write a feature length screenplay.  I now have my screenplay.  The title is “Home” and the film is a cross between Gaslight (if you haven’t seen it, go find it somewhere) and The Skeleton Key.  That’s all I’m going to say about it for now.

On a slightly unrelated note, I find I get some of my best ideas in the shower.  I was in the shower when I came up with the idea for this script.  I was in the shower when I came up with the premise of “Blood and Rain.”  I think I was even in the shower when I decided to do a translation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” into a short story.  Where do you guys find the most inspiration?

Enraptured and Scrivener

Ok, so I want to start off by saying I am not being paid to endorse Scrivener, but if you know how I could make that happen, let me know.

When a friend suggested the program to me, I was skeptical.  I’ve messed around with other writing programs before and they always seemed like they were more hassle than they were worth.  However, he said there was a free trial, and I do love me some free stuff, so I thought I’d give it a go.  I love this program.  I had already started Enraptured back in November for NaNoWriMo, so I plugged in what I had and played around with it.  I love how easy it is to move things, and to reference things.  I really do love this program.

The initial feedback for Enraptured has been pretty positive so far.  Most of my writer friends finish an entire draft before they start looking for readers, but I have a pretty workshop-heavy background where I only workshop beginnings of stories, or specific chapters in books.  I’ve gotten used to showing off incomplete works and basing future writing on current feedback.  The thought of finishing an entire manuscript with no feedback really makes me uncomfortable.  So, at 26 pages in, I sent it to some friends of mine.

The general consensus is that it’s rather creepy.  Considering the amount of horror writers I count as friends, I shall take that as a compliment.  It even creeped out Charlie, and he’s dead.  It’s a multiple POV piece, but each view shift is a new chapter, so no one has mentioned having any problems following it yet.  In fact, the one person who has finished going through the draft likes that choice.  The book moves between four perspectives, so it shouldn’t get too difficult to navigate.

Since I’m writing it in Scrivener instead of Word, I get an overview of the entire manuscript as I write.  It’s very easy to jump to specific sections to see what I wrote.  Moving content is as simple as grabbing a file and dragging it to a new location.  I’ve already used that feature, and the thought of doing the same thing in Word makes my head hurt.

A Preview…of Sorts

I’ve mentioned that Some Assembly Required will have interior art as well as custom cover art.  I wanted to give you a preview of the amazing that’s in store for you.

It's mine, and I will cut you.  Jussayin'.

It’s mine, and I will cut you. Jussayin’.

This is not for the book.  This is a one of a kind art piece that the ridiculously talented Pamla Tindall made for me as a graduation present.  This book will be the most amazing thing you will buy this year, if not for the poetry, then for the hand drawn art inside.  But the poetry doesn’t suck, you know.

New Book Trailer and Website

I’ve talked about my multimedia writing class before.  For part of the class, I had to design and build an online multimedia portfolio.  It’s still in progress, you it’s live so you can check it out.  It has a couple of short stories of mine, so if you’ve ever been tempted to read my fiction instead of the poetry I’ve posted, it’s there.  I plan on adding a couple more stories, but there are two up now.  The coolest feature is the trailer I just made for my book, Celia.

I’m pretty thrilled about the way it turned out.

Chapbook Update and New Work

I’ve been playing around with Lulu for my chapbook project so I can start getting a feel for what I’ve got.  I’ve decided to title the book In Pieces, although I still need to write the title poem.  I’m shooting for around 32 pages.  It’s coming along really well and I’m pleased with it overall.  I’d like to send it off into the world to see who might be interested in it, but I haven’t completely ruled out self-publishing.  I guess it depends on the kind of response people have to the project.  A few days ago, I posted a new erasure poem I wrote out of a poem from Larry Levis.  I’ve decided I kind of like doing erasures, so I did another one.  This is from Louise Glück’s poem, “The Fear of Love.”




That body

seemed to

have spoken


It was winter

the sun rose

mirrored in the moon

passed over

as though

to leave no shadows

only dents

stretched before us



we lie there

arm in arm

the gods

we built

New Work–Into Sodom and Reruns

One of the things I’m discovering about putting together this new chapbook of poetry is that as I write new pieces for it, some of the older pieces are no longer fitting in so well.  I’ve decided I’m going to take those older pieces out and write some new pieces to replace them.  I was sitting in class last night and ended up writing two new pieces.  They are very rough, so commentary is appreciated.


Into Sodom


I wanted him to stop

told him as much

I’m not done yet

he said with his body


He took me into Sodom

mistook me for the Angels

He showered while I cried





this place feels familiar

the snow across the TV picture

stays behind my closed eyes

and the TV doesn’t work

the horizontal hold slips

flips the scene, grabs again

my belly distends like an Ethiopian child’s

he is starving, I am pregnant

I wish we could switch shows