Between the Stones by Donna Love Wallace
"In Between the Stones, Donna Love Wallace looks the Devil of breast cancer in the eye and says, 'You do your work; I’ll do mine. I’m taking notes!' This survivor’s saga becomes a thriver’s triumph, leading us from desolation to resignation to hope. If her gallantry inspires, Wallace’s poetry enthralls. This book isn’t a motivational manual; it’s a thrilling work of art, alive with originality. In one poem, she likens leaving a message in Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall to secreting a paper prayer in a niche above her fireplace. In another, she compares breast cancer to a hangnail and a mastectomy to the removal of fingers. That metaphor has left me grateful for my digits and aching for Wallace’s loss. Between Stones doesn’t merely record feelings; it makes you feel. Wallace’s images exemplify Emily Dickinson’s classic edict: 'Tell the truth but tell it slant.' You see the hell she’s enduring from the most intriguing angles. Extremes require inspired presentation. Weirdness is the order of the day. Blueberries become bullets in the war against cancer, and clothes talk. The poet captures dread with such precision on the page that you experience her off-stage desperation. Instead of recording emotions, Wallace’s surreal scenes make you feel. When I finished Between the Stones for the fourth time, I went out to pick up the morning paper. I noticed that my arms were flapping. I realized that Wallace’s magic had seized my subconscious mind. I wanted to fly."
—Michael Gaspeny, author of Re-Write Men and Vocation
"Between the Stones is a walk with a fine balance between a view into personal, private thoughts of a woman experiencing the world of breast cancer treatment and real world images that are encountered on the journey. The cascade of emotions are visually captured against the canvas of the medical world and everyday life events. Survivors will identify with the analogies that portray a strong sense of self and the challenge that there is still life to live. The book will bring laughter and tears to those that have gazed into this world of care."
—Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, Breast Cancer Navigator, Derrick Davis Cancer Center, Winston Salem, NC
Donna Love Wallace’s debut poetry chapbook, Between the Stones, takes the reader on a journey one in eight women will experience sometime during their life: invasive breast cancer. With candor and a full range of emotion, Wallace navigates her way through disparate places and the people that occupy them: the biopsy suite, the grocery store, her closet and a tattoo parlor 350 miles from home. With sparse eloquence and artisanal attention to her craft, Donna Love Wallace is a poet’s poet. Readers of Between the Stones will cry, laugh and celebrate a voice that chooses stoic analysis over panic; positivity in the face of pain and uncertainty; and resolute courage over defeat. Whether or not invasive breast cancer has touched your life, great inspiration lines these pages.
Donna Love Wallace of Lewisville, North Carolina, received a Wildacres Artist Residency to complete her first book of poetry titled Between the Stones, about her personal experience with breast cancer (Hermit Feathers Press, 2019). Donna has served in leadership with Winston Salem Writers and Poetry in Plain Sight. Her poetry appears in Snapdragon, Hermit Feathers Review, Flying South, Pinesong, Kakalak, The Paddock Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Plainsongs, and WestWard Quarterly, among others. Donna is a retired critical care nurse, seminarian and educator.