Toni Ortner’s Daybook V, Change of Season, documents the daily thoughts of the Vermont poet and writer who reflects on life in the times of COVID. Uplifting but tinted with the bleakness of the era, Change of Season, blends both poetry and prose in her diary of reflections and is infused with the beauty of Vermont illustrator Linda Rubenstein’s colorful works.

Change of Season is Toni Ortner’s brilliant journal of examination, reflection, celebration, and lamentation spanning fifteen months during these COVID times. Her deep thought on what it means to be alive at this stage of her life is engendered by her close observation of people and surroundings, her vivid dreams, her poignant memories; all contributing to her enlightening interpretation of the moment she inhabits.

— Ed Burke, author of short story “Maia’s Call”, novella Allure, and novel Christine, Released, all published by Running Wild Press

Toni Ortner is a truth teller, even when it hurts. Her relentless search for meaning in this chronicle of seventeen months during COVID leaves the reader amazed at her ability to vividly describe the challenge of everyday living 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 in Change of Season Ortner also reminds us of the darkness. Whether in short poems or prose pieces, she casts an unflinching eye on the cruelty of our politics, on personal loss, on young love, aging, and death. Ortner never loses sight of what she calls, “the ghost of grief that follows you as you bend over the sink washing dishes or slide a pan of lasagna into the oven.” And yet the writing always defaults to what she calls “the meaning that floats between the lines.”

— Vincent Panella, author of Sicilian Dreams

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