The best way to visit any country is with someone who knows and loves it intimately. In Walking Backward, Diana Anhalt welcomes us graciously into the very heart of her family and her Mexico. With deep empathy and quiet courage, and always with a saving grace of humor, she shows us how to deal with love and loss, both on a personal and an artistic level.
—Dan Veach, founding editor of Atlanta Review, author of Elephant Water and Lunchboxes
These poems walk gracefully together, backward and forward—through the rooms of childhood, motherhood, and widowhood—from a shtetl in Russia and a 1912 steerage class crossing, to homes in the U.S. and Mexico. A master of specificity and musical language, Anhalt enables us to see and hear places, events, and family members’ idiosyncrasies (such as her mother’s infamous Venus flytrap memory). The collection bursts with humor, history, and heartbreak. Perhaps my favorite is “Homesick,” where the poet recalls the first home in Mexico that she shared with her late husband—scorpions / rallied in the bathtub and the bamboo/thrust through parquet floors—and now misses the words stripped from her tongue: the tu and the yo, the you and the me.
—Karen Paul Holmes, author of Untying the Knot and No Such Thing as Distance
Diana Anhalt’s poems are dedicated to the love and loss of people and place. She transforms this love and loss to find her home in poetry. Anhalt lyrically leads her reader on a path toward this home where so many restless feet have walked. She shows us that when wandering to that place called home, the “Feet are the last to follow.” We feel the chill of walking barefoot and blind down corridors she has left behind. We feel the weight and expanse of walking in the shoes, the footsteps, of family long gone. Anhalt has pared down language to describe the moment of arriving in a new country with one pair of shoes, and she shows us how our feet, like many of her lines, must dance and celebrate. Anhalt’s words beautifully describe just how “our feet scrawl messages in the dust of our pasts, of lives left behind.”
—Jane Simpson 2018 Blessings of the Beasts, Georgia Author of the Year for On the Porch, Under the Eaves