Excavating Light


Product Details

Finishing Line Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 0.1 X 8.5 inches | 0.14 pounds
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About the Author

A native of Dyersburg, TN, Diana Ewell Engel has written poetry most of her life. She worked as a librarian in NC for eighteen years before becoming a freelance writer and caregiver. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She created and taught a twelve-week Verve of Verse workshop at Penn-Griffin Middle School which culminated in a student reading and the student anthology, Sharing the Light. At the Greensboro Creative Center, she became friends with visual artists and led another long workshop, Ice Melting on a Hot Stove. As a writing facilitator, she has volunteered for Poetry GSO and Writers' Group of the Triad. She served as WGOT president, poetry critique group facilitator, events planner, and as an editor and head of the fire & chocolate anthology project. Now residing in High Point, she is captivated by light and shadow.


Diana Ewell Engel's poems are above all lyrical, subtle in sound and rhythm. They offer well-wrought steps to view earthly joys and challenges, and also spiritual ground, where the reader can meet spirits and memories. The personal tone of each poem allows the reader to enter artistic "morning," to envision the "faint vista hovering / after the dark hours, // on the edge of day." This is hard-won poetry of honest emotion, all the more resonant and sweet in its silences, cacophony, and lyrical loveliness.

-MARILYN KALLET, Knoxville Poet Laureate, Professor Emerita, University of Tennessee,

author and/or editor of eighteen books, including seven books of lyric poems, the most recent being

How Our Bodies Learned, 2018.

In Diana Ewell Engel's Excavating Light, the natural world--a "bruised sky," "a frozen tundra of warrior trees, / their branches unsheathed," the "ruby blur" of a cardinal "buffeted by storm / grasping feeder perch"--is conjured through sensory evocations that are both rooted in concrete reality and laden with unforced, metaphorical resonance. Poem after poem in this excellent collection casts a sensitive but unsentimental light on what is lost and what abides as our vulnerable humanity is impacted by "nature's changing course untrimmed."

-MARK SMITH-SOTO, editor/associate editor of International Poetry Review at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro for over twenty years, author of three prize-winning chapbooks; the full-length poetry collections Our Lives Are Rivers, Any Second Now and Time Pieces; Fever Season: Selected Poetry of Ana Istarú; and his lyrical memoir, Berkeley Prelude.

From the very first poem in which shells offer "some cryptic warning" to the final poem when the poet is free to sing fully, the "landscape of light" that Diana Ewell Engel explores in Excavating Light casts memory and nature into sharp focus so that each poem becomes a message of solace to the reader. The pain of life is present here, but also the balm that careful attention brings.

-JANET LEE WARMAN, Professor of English and Education, Elon University, author of Lake Diving