When All Else Fails
by Lana Hechtman Ayers
Open-hearted and unwavering, Lana Hechtman Ayer’s poems of vivid imagery navigate the reader through a lifetime—a rocky childhood, self-discoveries as a young woman, the many losses of adulthood, then finally learning to anchor one’s existence to beauty. These poems explore growing up with an abusive mother, attentive grandmothers, and a distant but caring father. The poet also examines the ethos of the times, bullying, and the ordeals of being female in a male-dominant culture. Giving voice to a connection with nature, the arts, creativity, and loving relationships, the collection is filled with uplifting insights. Ultimately, When All Else Fails celebrates the restorative power of poetry itself.
Early Praise for When All Else Fails:
Lana Hechtman Ayers’ unflinchingly honest and sensual poetry traces her journey from a difficult childhood in Queens spent in the dark house of my mother’s anger where the poet grew scrupulous as an owl, to a wildly luxuriant maturity in the Pacific Northwest where she revels in intimacy with sky and water, trees, birds, and a loving partner. The shadows of New York give way to a wide open spaciousness and a vibrant appreciation of simple gifts: eggs from the Farmer’s Market, the sound of rain, a beloved dog, and the window in the poet’s study where One windy day I became a kite. Ayers generously takes us along on her journey from violence and decay to a hard-earned rebirth into nature, love, and art. In the end, we too are redeemed.
—Alison Luterman, author of In the Time of the Great Fires
When All Else Fails reminds us that poetry can arise from even the most difficult circumstances. Lana Hechtman Ayers takes the raw material of extreme childhood poverty and abuse and turns it into one arresting poem after another. Even more remarkable is that the poet emerges from this crucible not just alive but fully alive, willing to embrace everything, knowing that she’s here to touch/ the blank page with reverent ink. Ayers’ good humor and generosity of spirit are hard-won and all the more authentic for that. When All Else Fails is a powerful book about the redemptive power of poetry.
—John Brehm, author of No Day at the Beach and The Dharma of Poetry
In this compelling free verse memoir, Lana Hechtman Ayers includes a number of poems recounting her young years spent as a sickly, mercilessly teased outsider. Her hateful mother gave her love that was a recipe for violence, and her beloved father—who kept a vigil at her side through her numerous illnesses—was one of her few solaces. But the tone here transcends darkness. These poems sing with joy and reverence for a world hard as agate but twice as beautiful. Ayers’ work speaks to us in a vividly rich lyric voice born to be the sky’s reporter, mood ring for the rain.
—Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita
About the Author:
Lana Hechtman Ayers, originally from New York, settled in the Pacific Northwest after a decade in New England. She is managing editor of three poetry presses: Concrete Wolf Poetry Series, MoonPath Press, and World Enough Writers. She facilitates generative writing workshops in the Amherst Method, runs a poetry book club, helps other poets assemble manuscripts, and teaches at writer’s conferences.
Lana holds MFAs in Poetry and Writing Popular Fiction and is a Hedgebrook residency alumna. A Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and National Book Award nominee, she won honors in the Discovery / Nation Award and in the Rita Dove Poetry Prize.
Author of nine previous collections of poems, she also published a romantic time travel adventure novel, Time Flash: Another Me, and is writing a sequel. A murder mystery may also be in the works.
In addition to thriving in the book-loving culture, Lana enjoys the Oregon Coast’s bountiful rain and copious coffee shops. She lives with her marvelous husband and several sweet black & white fur babies. A time travel enthusiast, she enjoys cryptograms, and watches entirely too much Home & Garden television. Her favorite color is the swirl of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Find her online: LanaAyers.com (website) | @LanaAyers23 (Twitter) | @LanaAyers23 (Instagram) | facebook.com/lana.ayers/
Joel Savishinsky –
Lana Ayers has written a series of poems that weaves together her difficult childhood, her flowering as a poet, and her deep ties with friendship and the natural world. Readers will be grateful to enter this tapestry with her, and see how creativity can both redeem and enrich a life.