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Winner, 2020 A3 Press Chapbook Prize

Research-based lyric essay/prose poems.

Read an excerpt.



“In the famous sepia portrait of me, I’m nineteen—hair disheveled, lace draping my throat.

It is 1884.

As he processed the image, the photographer made use, in a dark room, of the black fluid secreted by cuttlefish as he translated me from body into ghost.

When faced with starvation, cuttlefish will eat one of their three hearts.”


GENDER/GENRE (featured in Triple No. 13, Ravenna Press, 2020)

An excerpt of my forthcoming book, It’s Not a Lonely World: A Memoir on the Edge (Trembling Pillow Press, 2021).

Lyric essay/prose poems.

Read an excerpt.

Purchase at Ravenna Press.



“Maybe a clue to my existence is being en route, liminal, occupying a third space. In between Xs on the map.

[. . .]

And though the word doesn’t fit my body as it moves—headlong, stammering, at times easeful—through the world, I considered it over the following months, rolled it over in my palm, feeling for demarcations, erosion, the smell of salt or steel or smoke it left behind.”


Cover-DraftRELIEF MAP (C&R Press, 2017)

Winner, 2016 Summer Tide Pool Chapbook Prize

Named a “New in September” Book by Lambda Literary.

Lyric essay/prose poems.

Read an excerpt.

Purchase at C&R Press or Amazon.


“The poems in Relief Map explore the dynamic landscape of abiding love—that territory that is ‘forever unchartered’ and yet ‘familiar as your own face and hands.’  Bertram locates the spirit in the body and the body, the human animal, in the natural world.  The language of the poems, like the lovers who inhabit them, is ‘swashbuckling & radiant’ and leads us through, and beyond, ‘the lonesome country of the self.’”—Grace Bauer, author of The Women At The Well and Mean/Time

“That oft-traversed and never-understood terrain of the beloved, of desire.  Bertram asks us to trace our hands over the everyday and see it anew, so that we may marvel at it: ‘To light one another from within & stare dumbstruck at the glow.’  This collection, contemplative and shot through with longing, is a bright burning thing reminding us of the tenuousness and beauty inherent to intimacy.”—Katie Schmid, author of forget me / hit me / let me drink great quantities of clear, evil liquor


bertram_from-the-vanishing-of-camille-claudel_coverFROM THE VANISHING OF CAMILLE CLAUDEL (Seven Kitchens Press, 2016)

Research-based cross-genre text.

Read an excerpt.

Purchase at Seven Kitchens Press.


“What does it mean to capture an image?

What does it mean to release it?”


mementocoevr_1024x1024MEMENTO MORI (Dancing Girl Press, 2014)

Lyric essay/prose poems.

Listen to an excerpt.

Purchase at Dancing Girl Press.

Cover photograph by Erin M. Bertram.


“we can, with the right mix of wisdom, attention, and grace, make of our lives Erin Bertram’s quiet ‘beauty unhinged.’  The lyric meditations of this collection read like prayer, each rooted in fierce and open-hearted attention, each full of longing and ‘words to utter as a stay against the dark.’  I want to quote line after line”—Rebecca Wee, author of Uncertain Grace


wind-cover-1WHERE THE WIND BENDS BACKWARDS (918 Studio Press, 2014)

Co-written with Ryan R. Collins.

Epistolary persona poems.

Out of print.


“fused together with tone and imagery.  A sense of place, of home, is felt at once but also a sense of loneliness.”—Sarah Lilius, author of What Becomes Within and The Heart Factory



Micro-chapbook of poems.

No longer available.

Cover photograph by Kelvin Mason.




02_windfallWINDFALL (Lettre Sauvage, 2010)

Winner, 2009 Lettre Sauvage Chapbook Prize

Collection of poems.

Purchase at Lettre Sauvage.

Cover art by John Charles Shippey.


“Spring-blown & ecstatic, the avid speech of Erin Bertram’s poems awakens spirit to its core.”—Mark Irwin, contest judge


inland-sea_webINLAND SEA (Seven Kitchens Press, 2009)

Winner, 2009 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize for LGBTQ+ poetry

Ekphrastic poems.

Purchase at Seven Kitchens Press.

Cover photograph by Kris Sanford.

“filled with beautiful disconnects, startling juxtapositions of language and image, and a loping, mournful grace.”—Ruth L. Schwartz, contest judge



Named a “Recent and Recommended Book” by Valparaiso Poetry Review.

Cros-genre text.


Read an excerpt.

Out of print.

Cover photograph by Erin M. Bertram.

“Erin Bertram’s book demonstrates a poet at high power making use of language, form, and the material of the text to render experience in three registers—physical, psychological, metaphysical—in the manner of lived human experience.  The framework, the aesthetics, are evident, but as is true with the best expressive writing in any genre, the aesthetics disappear behind the profound experience of the text.”—Bill Scalia, Galatea Resurrects

“safety can be found in a name, gleaned from the seeming order of definition (whether from a dictionary or medical pamphlet) even when faced with the treachery of meaning.  From the opening lines of Rilke to the book’s final words, the solid actuality of language belies our frankly human experience of loss and its echo, pain.  In such a world, where we are always reaching, even our mother’s breasts bear the fragility of existence.  In such a world, ‘any change is worth noting.’”—Erin Quick, Left Bank Books

“Seen through the lens of language, relationship is stronger than illness.  Bertram’s poetry is a quiet crescendo of love and attentiveness that connects and redefines whatever it touches.”—Rebecca Ellis, series editor


tinyside44WISE RAVEN (Big Game Books, 2008)

Micro-chapbook of poems.

Out of print.



“the power of persona is first seen as in a glass, darkly, but made all the more forceful by the shadows, and the unavoidable lightning.”—Maureen Thorson, series editor


wildkindlygreenTHE MOST WILD, KINDLY GREEN (Achiote Press, 2008)

Collection of poems.

Out of print.

“I love the way Erin’s poem [“Beat Fast My Heart”] catapults the reader right into a disorienting, fragmentary narrative—my favorite kind—and alternates between short, halting statements and astonishing enjambments.”—Mary Biddinger, editor of Barn Owl Review



Winner, 2007 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award for LGBTQ+ poetry

Crown of sonnets.

Out of print.

Cover photograph by Erin M. Bertram.

“engenders a longing none of us can ignore and all of us recognize immediately, a longing beyond the physical, even beyond articulation in any language except, perhaps, the angels.”—Jim Elledge, contest judge

Body of Water is masterfully constructed by one of the most skilled poets I have read in a long time”—Bill Scalia, Galatea Resurrects


alluviumALLUVIUM (Dancing Girl Press, 2007)

Collection of poems.

Read an excerpt.

Purchase at Dancing Girl Press.

Cover photograph by Kris Sanford.


“Bertram’s poetry is darkly sparkling, adroit, well crafted, painterly, vital and sonically rapturous”—Karyna McGlynn, New Pages

“this volume demands more than a quick reading session from its readers—this is a book that commands our attention.”—Genevieve Kaplan, Galatea Resurrects


hhlargeHERE, HUNGER (NeO Pepper Press, 2007)

Co-written with Sarah Lilius.

Exquisite corpse poems.

Out of print.