Toni Ortner is a truth teller, even when it hurts. She leaves the reader amazed at her ability to vividly describe the challenges of everyday life and the need for the imagination as a curative. Ortner takes her inspiration from Virginia Woolf ’s claim that a diary should reflect, “the light of our life,” yet Ortner also reminds us of the darkness. Whether in short poems or prose pieces, she casts an unflinching eye on the cruelty of politics, on personal loss, on young love, aging, and death. The writing always defaults to what she calls, “the meaning that floats between the lines.”
—Vincent Panella, author of Sicilian Dreams
Toni Ortner’s writing is lyrical but rooted in present tense, observations deeply felt, of spiritual musings, political musings, musings about life . . . unself-conscious, but finely hewn. Many of the passages, though written in paragraph form, read as poetry. The poems can be satisfyingly evocative. At times it’s difficult to tell if a scenario is imagined or real, which for me enhanced my engagement and enjoyment. After all, the imagined can seem to the imaginer more real than “reality;” dreams can take on a life of their own and impact our relationship with the embodied world. Ortner seems to find expansion, reflection in the dream world. It adds a rich texture. That it is all together—dream, thought, memory, event, creates a fluid landscape that captures well the interstices between a rich inner life and its sometimes difficult-to-navigate outer manifestations.
—Arlene Distler, auhtor of Voices Like Wind Chimes, and This Earth, This Body
When I read Virginia Woolf ’s idea of what a diary should contain to reveal the light of our life, I decided to write daybooks to capture the changing moments of consciousness in which we float. These are diaries that contain what is slight as well as solemn, what is funny as well as what is tragic. It is not planned but spontaneous and contains poems, prose, visions of the future, fantasies, conversations, memories, dreams, encounters, and responses to nature. I have learned that as I move through time, time moves through me.