ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
Named Second Finalist in the 2022 Poetry Society of Virginia North American Poetry Book Award
Received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Brockman-Campbell Book Award
Publication date March 25, 2021
9 x 6 paperback, 82 pages
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.
Reviews for Anything That Happens
[Anything That Happens is] a potent collection that invites readers to walk in Cheryl’s shoes. And, it provides traction for assessing and moving beyond these poignant and powerful moments of quiet desperation.
—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
The poems in Anything that Happens puzzle together the emotions of life, fitting words into sharp, emotive slivers that pierce a heart with empathy.
—Susan, E. Morris, Independent Book Review
Wilder doesn’t hide behind poetic devices that can make trauma beautiful or romantic or at least palatable. Instead, when writing about the accident and its aftermath, Wilder’s choice is often sparse language with anaphoric qualities…”
—Angie Dribben, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online
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. Just gorgeous.
—More reviews at Goodreads
Anything That Happens is a book rich with the experience of a life well-lived. Deep with meaning and heart, readers can learn a great deal by focusing on the significance of each piece. Much like a young sibling that learns how to avoid mistakes by watching their big brother or sister, this book allows its readers to learn through the trial-and-error process of the author.
— Jacob R LaMar, Readers’ Favorite
From the cover
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.
—Nancy Eimers, author of Oz
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.”
—Mark Cox, author of Readiness: Prose Poems