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 her journey from a young adult consumed by shame and self-hatred to a woman she can live with... and even respect. Along the way, Wilder marries, has a son, divorces, and cares for her dying mother. Anything That Happens examines what it takes to reconcile a past marked by a grave mistake, a present as caregiver to many, and a future that stretches into one long second chance.
Anything That Happens is a mature poetic inquiry into the ways early trauma can reverberate through the whole of a life—relationships, family, one’s sense of self. The poems are candid, sharp-edged and very well rendered. You can taste “the bone in the broth” here as Wilder works through the maze of emotion. In the end, we witness change and redemption, but the psychic weight remains. As she aptly describes it: “I am two people now— / the before and the after; one I’ve already forgotten, / the other I have not met.”
The difficult story of what follows a terrible accident in Anything That Happens has me thinking about the word aftermath, how it means not only dire consequences but second-growth, as new grass after a harvest. Cheryl Wilder's poems are almost shatteringly direct: they explore guilt and suffering so cleanly and so precisely that every detail testifies, and mercy is ever possible. This is a brave and honorable book.
Join Bookmarks and Winston-Salem Writers to hear four local authors read from their work and talk about their writing process.
This reading event showcase two featured readers (Jason DeYoung and me) currently promoting books (10 min. reading) and eight other readers (5 min. reading). Bonus! A handful of friends filled up the reading spots: Claire Guyton, Caitlin Leffel, Suzanne Farrell Smith, Sarah Twombly, Stephanie Friedman, Laurie Easter. You won’t want to miss this lineup!
Reading and conversation with publisher Kevin Watson and editor Tom Lombardo. Audience questions and participation encouraged.