Chosen as Sundress Publications' The Wardrobe's Best Dressed January 2022

Open The Fist is a powerful collection of poems about truth-telling, violation, and healing. Elya Braden’s magnificent and piercing poems speak directly to the heart.


            —Laura Davis, author of The Courage to Heal and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again


These stunning poems by Elya Braden are both brutal and tender... elevating the spirit through the portals of redemption. Touching and evocative, sad and exhilarating, majestic and magical, these poems capture with perfect imagery and feeling the trajectory innocence takes on its way toward adulthood.


            —Jack Grapes, author of Last of the Outsiders: Collected Poems


Elya Braden’s poems are daring, tender and utterly trustworthy. Each is a summons, through language irresistibly sensuous and enthralling, into a moment we, too, may have experienced but most probably ignored. ...these poems are a testimony to the healing power of telling the truth, and the artistry of each makes her healing our healing. 

           —Kim Rosen, author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words


In this vibrant first collection, Braden uses poetry as a shovel and a sifter to excavate and understand what lives in her haunted body... The result is a collection of poems both terrible and tender, in which she grapples with the primal impulses of family, sexuality, and what it means to be born a girl, to survive into womanhood, and to look back. 

            —Tresha Faye Haefner, Author of Take This Longing (Finishing Line Press), Founder of The Poetry Salon


poems from open the fist

Apply two coats of waterproof mascara.

Floss until it steadies your hands. Sit down 

while you sheath your winter legs

in ultra-sheer pantyhose, Nude #2. Remember

the time before your ninth deposition, 

teetering in your hallway in a twisted

tree pose, you wrenched your back,

flailing like a netted trout."


From "How to Be Deposed" - Algebra of Owls

After my divorce, I realized

my fear of heights wasn't vertigo,

but the heady desire to fling

myself over the edge 

of anything—

a staircase, an overpass,

a fight.


From "Tethered" - Linden Avenue Literary Journal

The blackberry vines overrun my garden.

They suckle from deep roots, choke my cool mint.

                        Their red hunger ripens to purple, bursts. 


From "Overrun" - Causeway Lit