Dreadful Wind & Rain by Diane Gilliam

Diane Gilliam was AROHO’s 6th Gift of Freedom winner. This stunning verse narrative is the first to be published of the three books Diane completed during the two years of the grant. This book is a river you will want to swim in.

It is the hardest thing

this holding open

of everything

with nothing

—from “Some Things the Doorways Want to Tell Us”

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So the story goes: Neglected and abused by her family, eclipsed by her elder and
more beautiful sister, a young girl longs for happily-ever-after, for something,
someone to rescue her. She is soon swept away into the next chapter of her life:
marriage—a promising world mirroring Old Testament stories and fairy tale
traditions. But loving just anyone and living the age-old “ever-after” narrative, as it
turns out, fails to bring true happiness after all. Dragged down by a destructive
marriage, her sister’s continued manipulations, and the growing weight of roles
and expectations created by others at her back, she must choose between
continuing in her familiar, complacent life, or boldly breaking free—and finally
making her own way.

Named for an Appalachian murder ballad in which a girl is drowned by
her sister, Dreadful Wind & Rain unseats expectations for what it means to live a
fairy tale life, revealing the powerful force that comes from stripping away traditional roles and beginning to write a story all your own.

Review Quotes

“Ache and lift and veracity tambourine through these lines and stanzas. This new Diane Gilliam collection exults its power inside our ears and through our hearts in a rich, stinging, marvelous way. We are never ready for what she has to tell us. Never ready for how tall her words can reach through the trees. I believe that Diane Gilliam is incorruptible as a poet.”

Nikky Finney, winner of the National Book Award for Head Off & Split

“Like all the most original poetry, Dreadful Wind & Rain draws its singular power from the place of origins, as female figures from fairy tales and Bible stories are transformed to confront, and ultimately transcend, the damage and entrapment of familial cruelty and betrayal. These intimate voices, interwoven with her own, informed by a deep confidence in the inner life, together create that extraordinary venture: the imaginative transit of a change of heart—a restorative grace.”

Eleanor Wilner, author of The Girl with Bees in Her Hair


Diane Gilliam is the author of three previous collections of poetry: Kettle BottomOne of Everything, and Recipe for Blackberry Cake (chapbook). She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Ohio State University. She has received an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council, the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and a Pushcart Prize. She was the sixth recipient of AROHO’s $50,000 Gift of Freedom award.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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