Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft.
I received a complimentary copy of “Anything That Happens” direct from the author Cheryl Wilder in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I have a wonderful surprise for you – I’m featuring both a review and an interview with the poet Cheryl Wilder. This is an interesting collection of poetry as the poet is exploring a particular moment in her life where something happened which affected the rest of the hours which came next – how tragedy and circumstances can affect us on a soul level and how we choose to transition through gut-wrenching circumstances can sometimes make or break how we enter the future.
We’ve all gone through hard circumstances at some point in our lives – we’ve all have had things happen which shake up our understandings about life and for some of us, we’ve been in accidents on highways which happened before we could process what happened at all. I still remember when my parents and I were in a car accident out of state and how blessed we were to walk away from it. It is not something I’ve mentioned in the past and I rarely speak of it IRL – it was a footnote on that one particular road trip and a humbling moment of awakening realisation on the other hand. There are moments we plan in life and then, there are unexpected moments which seek to teach of us something even if we never knew we signed up for the lesson.
In this collection of poetry, I knew I was going to be exploring raw emotions attached to the circumstances surrounding the poets experiences with the car accident and the after effects that accident had on her life due to the circumstances which followed. I elected to talk about certain sections of the collection in my interview with Ms Wilder as well as comment about the collective threading of these circumstances in the collection which I felt told the greater story and held within those passages the heart of ‘Anything That Happens’.
You’ve taken your experiences and have cleverly tucked them into poetic stories which tell pieces of your own story but let the reader fill in the unspoken bits as well. How did you sort out how to thread the tragedy into the confluence of poems which creates the backbone of Anything That Happens?
Wilder responds: I put the book through many iterations of order. Up until the last draft, I had themes that didn’t make the final cut. Once I refined the story, I figured out how I wanted readers to enter and exit the book. The car crash, which was the trauma that underlay all other events, made a natural frame for the collection.
Photo Credit: Cheryl Wilder
I knew the “Slipped” poem series had to be in the beginning, to introduce the crash. But, how to end? I wanted to bring readers into the experience while being careful to not overwhelm their emotions. I decided an arc was the best way to accomplish my goals. The poems about being my mom’s caregiver were also heavy, so I put them in the second half. (My editor, Tom Lombardo, suggested the section break before introducing the “Mom” poems.) After that, I placed poems in the collection by considering how the other themes fit into the arc.
I felt you had a natural rhythm and pace within this collection – as this is how I interpreted the order of the poems myself as a reader and how I saw this hidden patterning of how the poems were organised. Being my father’s caregiver for the past five years since he survived his stroke, I can sympathise with others who are carers for their parents and/or other loved ones, too. I felt the anchours were the “Slipped” series but you had such a wonderful cadence of honesty about how interconnected the trauma of that sequencing had an overlap effect on the rest of your life, too. And, how transparent you left your emotions and your thoughts in the poems themselves was truly quite the impact on us who were reading your stories.
You’ve mentioned poetic imagery and language as cornerstones of what renew as a writer. How do you find writing poetry allows you to connect to a reader and merge your vision into their own understanding of what you’ve written? What draws you into poetry in other words and how does the fusion of what you write into a poem become a vessel of thought others can find tangible in their own lives?
Wilder responds: I was drawn to poetry by its power to “say the most with the least amount of words.” My parents weren’t great communicators. As a child, I had a lot to say and didn’t know how to say it. There are many forms of expression, but I hungered for language. I found my path through lyric poetry.
Art is a reflection of the world. If a poem is doing its work, it is holding a mirror up to the reader. One way I create the mirror, or vessel, is by writing to the unknown reader, preferably someone 100 years in the future. I want the person to get something from the poem that has nothing to do with me. It may sound counter-intuitive, especially since my collection is personal, but I worked to rid the poems of me “the writer.” When I accomplish that, the poem is what’s left. And if I’ve done my job, it serves as a mirror to the world.
Another angle is to look at form. I think the lyric form draws readers into it. The form is sparse in language and there’s a lot of white space. I see white space as an invitation for readers to become part of the poem—to fill in the blanks. Line breaks do some heavy lifting here. For example, when I finish reading a line, I can insert my experiences—words and images—before moving on, even if it’s subconscious. The line, and the break that ends the line, allow me to be inside the. I suppose this is how a poem can also be a vessel. I try to create this same kind of space for my readers. Yes, walk in my shoes for a while, but at the same time, I hope you’re reflecting on the shoes you’re walking in.
I find everything I read has a way of looping back into my own personal experiences and how I’ve interpreted the world up until the moment I’ve reached inside the poem(s) I am reading. We all interpret what we read differently and choose to take a journey into what we read differently, too. Some stay on the outside fringes of what they read but I’ve always taken a more personal approach – to truly feel and experience what is being shared on page and in effect, this carried over to visual storytelling outlets as well. Whenever I see a film, I become whomever the lead character is and walk through their journey as if I had lived it myself. I love how you used the mirror effect to explain your writerly legacy and how the words we leave behind cast a reflection both the world at large and on the hours we’ve spent living ourselves. Language and stories irregardless of their format to express ourselves is a wonderful way of uniting both distance and time but also a mutual respect for further exploring our own humanity and the curious ways in which life itself is a pursuit of enlightenment.
A debut poetry collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance.
At the age of twenty, Cheryl Wilder got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive. She emerged from the car physically whole. Her passenger, a close friend, woke up from a coma four months later with a life-changing brain injury. Anything That Happens follows Wilder’s journey from a young adult consumed by shame and self-hatred to a woman she can live with... and even respect.
Places to find the book:
Published by Press 53
on 25th March, 2021
Format: Paperback Edition
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook
Converse via: #NonFiction, #Autobiography and #Poetry Drama
& #CherylWilder and #AnythingThatHappens