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.
I have so many thoughts and feelings swirling inside my brain about Cheryl Wilder's Anything That Happens. The first poem which is also the title of this collection, begins
"Until I was twenty, I believed anything wouldn't happen to me"
I think this is something many of us can relate to, although the age may vary and it isn't necessarily a feeling we have only once in life. For the author, in this instance, it was a car accident that would leave her friend in a coma for months while she herself was wracked with guilt and shame. We always think of this type of thing happening to someone else. Not us. Until it does.
Anything That Happens tells the story of what happened that night, interspersed with other poems of after, and about what the author was feeling and thinking during that time. The two young women were enjoying their evening, had had a little too much to drink, and one of them got behind the wheel.
This collection is about more than just that accident. Wilder also writes about the stigma and judgement--how others see her after the fact. She opens up about giving birth to her son, her absent father, her dying mother, and relationship with her ex-husband. Throughout she explores feelings of loss and grief, anger and self-hatred, and of finally forgiving oneself.
I found Wilder's poetry to be extremely visceral. I felt her words. I generally like to read poetry out loud, but I found myself preferring to read this one inside my own head. It felt too personal, too raw.
I do not often think about the overall layout of a poetry collection unless it's a novel-in-verse. Anything That Happens isn't such a novel, but it has a distinct narrative flow which works so perfectly, each poem flowing into the next. The final poem is such a perfect note to end on.
Cheryl Wilder's Anything That Happens is a book I will not soon forget. I imagine I will carry it with me for a long time to come.
A truly emotional and deep read, author and poet Cheryl Wilder does a fantastic job of conveying the raw emotions that swirled around her in those painful moments during and after the fateful car crash that changed her and her friend’s lives forever. The author’s words cut deep, exploring the light and darkness of her life and in essence the light and dark that we all face at one point or another in our own lives.
Slipped I, II, and III were definitely the most gut-punching and visceral poems of the collection, highlighting the traumatic experience the car accident took on the two friends that night. The author also explores the present and the future in this collection, from her years taking care of her dying mother to the rise and fall of her own family and looking ahead, and finding peace and redemption in life.
The jumble of pain, memories, and yearning in the face of great loss is not only felt in the author’s powerful writing but resonates with so many, including this author, who watched his own mother have to say goodbye to his grandmother in much the same way just two short years ago. Great writing such as this does a great job of connecting readers with the author’s emotions, and this book does just that.
A heartbreaking walk into the past and written in a beautiful symphony of emotions and memories, author Cheryl Wilder’s “Anything That Happens” is a must-read poetry book. A truly honest and memorable collection of poetry that touches the soul and tugs at the heartstrings as readers feel the author's raw feelings pour out onto the page, readers will not want to miss this incredible journey for themselves. Be sure to grab your copy today!
The memories and feelings in poetry are those Wilder has carried with her. They express how they continue to thread through her life.
All of them are personal, revealing, raw, evocative, and haunting. Anger and sarcasm is on the surface. I don’t need to look for these feelings. The poems are sometimes brutal and desperate to be heard-in my face with powerful feelings.
When I read poetry I try not to figure out what the poet is saying and instead just go with how the poem speaks to me. I cannot help but be drawn to the last poem on page 64; and wonder what it means?
I have several favorites: “Anything That Happens,” “Slipped 1,” “No One Will Ever Love You,” “The House in Me,” “Uprooted,” “Speak of Crossroads,” and on page 64 “To Have a House.”
I love the front cover art work. I love the colors and texture. There is an inner red surrounded by hues of green and blue. The red obviously wants to be seen!
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from Press 53. I am not required to write a positive review.
These poems contain dream-like reflections on a car crash that ruined both the driver's and the passenger's lives -- one stuck in a coma for months, the other wallowing in grief and self-incrimination. The narrative that winds through the book unspools as if we're watching the crash and all that followed through the slow-motion memory of someone forever stuck in that painful moment. Wilder's words possess the stunned quality of someone still in shock. Anything That Happens is compelling reading.
A devastatingly beautiful collection. I don't know that I have ever heard of a book of poetry being called a page-turner, but I opened it when it arrived in the mail, expecting to just take a quick peek and read the rest as I had more time, and ended up sitting down and devouring it.
Thank you, Cheryl, for this beautiful and vulnerable collection of your heart's work.