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Eyewear Publishing

Barrier Island

Barrier Island

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Preorder NOW! | Fiction - Paperback

each act of writing or mothering stuns by the immensity of its hidden archaeology of failure - Erica Hunt

Barrier Island explores the psychology of a mother experiencing a breakdown of Self. What can she can claim as hers: her body and her children? Her children as her body? An exploration of language itself, including its arbitrary nature and inherent limitations, underpins her struggle. Running parallel is the geological erosion of the barrier islands (the “Outer Banks”) off the coast of North Carolina. “how extraordinary, how precarious it is.” says Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, author of Salve.

Lyall Harris is a visual artist and writer whose award-winning poetry and prose have appeared in The Minnesota Review, The New Guard, The Dewdrop, The Perch Magazine, The Vincent Brothers Review, Prose Online and elsewhere. Harris’ paintings have been widely exhibited and recognized, including by the National Academy Museum with The George Hitchcock Prize, and her book art is held in numerous Special Collection libraries, such as those at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Yale and Stanford. For more, visit


Photo credit: Linda Abbott

In Barrier Island, a factual Q&A is intercut with a mother’s vivid and painful inner thoughts, and word play is intercut with unsettling erasures. As the undercurrents of tension accumulate, Lyall Harris stretches the vessel of language to accommodate the humanizing and the horrifying. This is a mesmerizing exploration of motherhood and dread.  - Helen Phillips, author of The Need

There can be "no tolerable words" for a mind cracked into shards, and each shard "flitting untamable like contagion" under oceanic pressure like "a bathtub full of water and drowning" —so why do I experience this book of self-erasure as a thing of pure Beauty? That is my question. - Alicia Ostriker, author of The Volcano and After

In Barrier Island, we find a bathtub “full of water and drowning” and a woman also suffocated by submersion. We find the fragile bodies of birds, a flightless wing erected in memoriam and the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge—and to sit at a wobbly café table reading this book is like flying, like breathing: a mundane miracle taken for granted between momentary recollections of how extraordinary, how precarious it is. For where else will we find words hidden in hollow piping? Where else, identical antitheses (object/object) and the warm, wet guilt that’s run down every mother’s cheek? What a gift of a tragedy Lyall Harris has given us. - Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, author of Salve

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