A Must-Read Book That Will Bring Such Joy: And the Clouds Parted

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

If you are lucky, you discover a book you didn't know you absolutely needed. Such is the case with a new book by one of our favorite writers, Gabrielle Yetter.

Her new collection of poetry, And the Clouds Partedis gorgeous, both in word and illustration. 

A Must-Read Book That Will Bring Such Joy: And the Clouds Parted

I absolutely know that Gabi is one of those writers where you love to read everything they've written (we've reviewed ALL of her books here on Wandering Educators, links below!), and I love how she so beautifully interprets the world we live in. She is a deep chronicler of humanity, and every time I read one of her books, I both nod my head understanding and learn so much.

I didn't know that her next book would be so utterly powerful that it would make me stop, re-read the book, and then read it again each day for almost a week. Her poems are both poignant and display deep truths about the human experience.

She teaches us to look, listen, pay attention, and love this world.

Gabi asked what was my favorite poem in the book. Honestly? That's like asking who is your favorite kid! All of them are richly textured, open our world and minds, and teach us much. It's that good.

Make a pot of tea, and sit down to read, wonder, and let Gabi reframe your concept of hope. It's doable...and important.

Highly, highly recommended!

Gabrielle Yetter is a former journalist who has lived in Bahrain, South Africa, the USA, Cambodia, and the UK. She is author of Whisper of the Lotus, The Definitive Guide to Moving to Southeast Asia: Cambodia, The Sweet Tastes of Cambodia, Ogden the Fish Who Couldn’t Swim Straight, and Martha the Blue Sheep, and co-author with her husband, Skip, of Just Go! Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure. She lives in East Sussex, UK.

We were lucky enough to chat with Gabi, and ask about the book, inspiration, messages in the poems, the illustrations, and more. Here's what she had to say...

A Must-Read Book That Will Bring Such Joy: And the Clouds Parted

Please tell us about your new book!
And The Clouds Parted is an illustrated collection of poetry. It was created during lockdown and consists of thirty pieces, each one a story or an observation, with messages about hope, loss, moving on, and seeing familiar things with new eyes. 

What inspired you to write this book?
At the beginning of lockdown, I was on a bike ride with my husband. It was a misty March morning and the world felt dark, scary, and foreboding. As we rode, the sky began to clear, and in the distance the sun broke through. It felt like a metaphor for the time—that there's always hope to be found, no matter how dismal things may appear. In my head, I started composing a poem—and it became the title poem for my book, And The Clouds Parted.

From that moment, I started to write about situations and people that moved me. One poem was for a dear friend whose world was torn apart when she lost her beloved to Covid. On the day she closed down his apartment for the last time, I hung up the phone from her, opened my laptop, closed my eyes, and starting writing. Words flowed from me about pain and sorrow and loss as I sensed some of the feelings I imagined she was feeling. Those words became the poem, Moving On

What other situations or events inspired you to write poems?
Every poem has a story and came about as the result of an experience or observation. 

One was triggered when my husband and I ran a community fridge during lockdown. We spent time talking to people at the fridge and observed them struggling to afford food or finding a way to manage alone. That inspired a poem called Like Him

Another was inspired from watching our elderly neighbour walk her blind and deaf dog past our home every day. They were inseparable and both getting on in years, so I wrote Companionship, which included these lines: 

She remembers the day

When he was a bundle of fluff

All ears, tongue, and tail

Panting at the door to go out.

But that was a million walks ago

When fields were for running and sticks for throwing.

Today he hobbles to the door

Glancing back to check she’s there,

Both heavier, older, fading

Companions through the years

What messages would you like to convey in your work?
Two significant messages come to mind: One is to always look for hope. The other is to pay attention to the "invisible people."

No matter where we live, we all walk past people every day and rarely notice them. Where does the homeless man go at the end of the day? What were the dreams and hopes of the elderly woman working in the diner? How did the young man with the dog end up squtting at the side of the road begging for food?

Many of my poems came to me while observing people and wondering what went on inside their heads and hearts. We often judge them as being a certain way, or take them for granted. But every person has a soul and dreams and a life that we have no idea about. My poems gave a voice to those hidden thoughts and lives.

Please tell us about the illustrations!
Lucy Dean was introduced to me by a mutual friend, and she provided the artwork for the book. From our first meeting, I could see that Lucy "got it," and she created a flow of black and white pencil drawings throughout the book that added so much to it. When she showed me her completed drawings, some of them moved me to tears with the poignancy she had created.

I'd love to know more about your process for writing poetry...
In contrast to writing my novel (Whisper of the Lotus), which was intensely difficult at times, I found poetry came naturally and easily. Usually an idea would strike me while I was on a bike ride, watching a film, or sitting in a cafe—and it felt as though the words just flowed through me. I wrote most of the poems in a matter of minutes while the emotions were fresh, then sometimes left them for a few days and returned to them. I might tweak a word or two or find a new line or two to add, but most of the time the words that I wrote initially remained the words that I kept.

There were some I wrote in the moment and didn't change a word. One was on the day of the Queen's death as I sat watching the announcements on television (And The Rain Pours Down), and another was during the Ukraine invasion as I watched, helpless, as news unfolded across the world (Sunflowers of Hope). 

My husband describes it as "finding my voice," and I think he's has a point. I've never written poetry before and it feels very right and so emotionally connected to who I am. 

How can people find your work?
And The Clouds Parted is available on Amazon for $8.99 ($3.99 for the ebook).
My author website is http://www.GabrielleYetter.com and I have a Facebook page and Instagram page
Lucy's artwork can be seen on http://www.lucydeanartist.co.uk

A Must-Read Book That Will Bring Such Joy: And the Clouds Parted