Songs of Sharhaya

Last year my husband released his CD Dance in the Fire, on which he included his wonderful setting of “The Mothers’ Land,” the final song from The Healer’s Choice. He’s now hard at work recording his next CD, and this morning he played me what he’s done so far with “Wine and Water,” another of the novel’s songs. It sounds so beautiful! I’m also really pleased with how well it stands on its own, apart from the book. However, if you have read or are reading The Healer’s Choice, “Wine and Water” is the song that Taras sings at the feast during the harvest-welcoming celebration:

Good neighbor, will you drink with me

For what has been and what will be,

For sorrow and for gaiety

That mix like wine and water?

 

Good neighbor, will you raise your glass?

For whatever comes to pass

Is ours to share, though griefs amass

And flow like wine and water.

 

Good neighbor, will you take in hand

Goblet, cup, or bowl, and stand

To drink your pledge to this kind land?

Raise up your wine and water.

 

Good neighbor, when my song is done,

Remember still the lesson sung:

Though all things change, Beyond they’re one,

And life is wine and water.

My March Madness

Yes, I know it’s April now, but the end of last month was so busy that I didn’t have a chance to write about it. First, of course, there was the long-awaited publication of The Healer’s Choice on March 17. My dad was visiting that week, so when my author’s copies arrived, I was able to give him the very first one–definitely a moment I’ll never forget, and fitting, in light of the fact that when I graduated from high school he took me to the store to pick out a typewriter, informing the clerk that I needed it because I was going to be a writer. I’m not sure I even knew that for certain myself at the time!

The last weekend in March, I was a featured author at both the Southern Literary Festival and the Dahlonega Literary Festival (both took place, conveniently, in Dahlonega). SLF is a gathering of students and faculty who work on college literary magazines, and they were a wonderful and enthusiastic group of people. I gave a poetry workshop that was practically standing-room-only, and the students in particular asked the most interesting and thought-provoking questions; it was a great experience to converse with them and share our love of poetry. (The staff of The Chestatee Review had some very kind things to say about the workshop, as well as other aspects of the festival: https://chestateereview.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/southern-literary-festival-2015-a-review-by-our-staff/) Other highlights were the book signing, at which I made my first in-person sale of The Healer’s Choice, and a well-attended address by Anthony Grooms, who is at work on a novel about African Americans in Sweden, a book I’m very much looking forward to.

I had attended and presented at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in previous years, but this was the first time I was a featured author; I felt quite honored, and the festival treated all of us authors like royalty. Unfortunately, I missed the keynote address by Frances Mayes (which I heard was terrific), but I did have the pleasure of being on a panel with her. As always, it was great fun to be on panels with Cherie Priest and Delilah S. Dawson–they and Kevin Hearn and Molly Harper were hard to keep up with in the witty-and-entertaining department! (Note to self: Try not to be so darn serious all the time!) Other authors I was pleased and privileged to meet and panel with included Ann Hite, Jessica Handler, George Weinstein, and Janice Hardy. The Dahlonega Literary Festival does a marvelous job of bringing together a diverse array of writers, and the festival volunteers and attendees are every bit as delightful as the authors. Hooray for book lovers!