Monday, September 9, 2019

Dana Wildsmith author of new book, One Light, will teach at John C. Campbell Folk School

I just received Dana’s new poetry book, One Light, published by Texas Review Press, a memoir in poetry. It seems that she and I have walked the same path in life. She was burned terribly as a fourteen year old and writes about the anguish of almost losing her hand, and describes the pain. She sings and has a poem on page 30 titled Hymns.

I watched my husband’s face and listened to him sing hymns while nurses pulled off the layers of dead skin from his cancer-ridden leg. I felt his pain as she described the painful scraping of dead skin from her burned arms and hands.  

Read the title poem below.

A single light can lead you home. One light
is all you need to break the back of night
when darkness seems to weigh  more than it has
on all the nights before, and nothing’s as
it was. Bit by bit, the lighter shades
of night you used to trust have faded as
you stopped believing in relief. The dark
goes on forever, and begins right where you are.

But when your eyes can’t guide your steps, you learn
to trust your heart instead. You rise and turn
toward where you need to go, and in the dark
you think you see a glimmer like a star
that wasn’t there until you headed home
through darkness, trusting that a light would come.

In the poem, Hospital Days, Dana writes about a few good memories she had from those weeks in the hospital; hot dogs from the deli, her friends who came to see her and to sing with her. Her mother took care of her through this time knowing her daughter could lose her hands. She was Dana’s rock, always. You can’t read Dana’s work without knowing her Mama.  Sadly the time came when Dana became the care-giver when her mother’s mind began to fade. Her Mama died from an aneurysm. 

Balancing on the precarious rock trying not to do or say too much, but needing to say and do so much. The poems about her mother at ninety broke my heart, and filled me with memories as I thought about my mother who lost her short term memory after an aneurysm damaged a part of her brain.

As Fred Chappell said, “Here are some of the strongest poems I have ever read. I am grateful for this truest of books.” I am grateful, too.

Dana will be teaching “What’s in Your Writing Folder?” Sunday, September 8 – Saturday September 14.

Dana has been a Folk School instructor since 2004. Her environmental memoir, "Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South," was finalist for Georgia Author of the Year. She is also the author of five collections of poetry, including "Christmas in Bethlehem." Her newest collection of poems, "One Light," is a memoir in poetry. Dana has served as artist-in-residence for Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park; as writer-in-residence for the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska; and she is a fellow of the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. She teaches English Literacy through Lanier Technical College.

Visit Dana's website

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