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There is Always Light

There is Always Light

By Arlene S. NealPublisher: Redhawk PublicationsISBN: 978-1-959346-17-3Genre: PoetryPrice: $15.00

Arlene Neal’s There is Always Light is the mise en scène of a quintessential rural Southern poet. Farm greens, tobacco browns, Goldie hounds, wild violets, sunlit creek minnows turning silver and gold, dark anvil clouds, rusty buckets, gold-tooth grins, cigarette smoke blue and thin, all flicker like frames from a memory-movie set against the white screen of page, each poem holding a complementary hue like a cinematic color palette. One that is eye-full of the chiaroscuro of life’s love and loss. One that leaves you with the bittersweet freeze frame of a grandmother and grandson learning to let go of a sunset. One that you will want to re-run. One you won’t soon forget. —Molly Rice, Author of Forever Eighty-Eights and Mill Hill

Arlene Neal grew up in northern Stokes County, NC, in the tobacco farming community of Lawsonville on the NC/VA state line. Situated on a ridge, her childhood home held a north view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and a little ways up the road, the Sauratown Mountains to the south. Red clay soil, woods, fields, creeks, and the Dan River are in her DNA. Labeled Renaissance Woman by former students, Arlene Neal holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in English Education from Appalachian State University. In retirement from Catawba Valley Community College English Department, she pursues poetry and continues to write a weekly column for the News-Topic of Lenoir, NC. She enjoys her large family, backyard bonfires, Sunday dinners, gardening, canning, birdwatching, hiking, the Atlanta Braves, and painting every now and then. She lives in the Dudley Shoals community of Caldwell County with her fisherman-husband Terry Neal.


Arlene Neal’s poetry, as does her person, makes me think of words like humble, honest, and wise. When she first began, reluctantly, showing me her work, I saw poems that had been crafted to their end point, ones from which I learned not just about her world, but my own, ones that made me feel something all the way into my bones. By the time I had seen enough of her work to gauge the consistent quality, I was convinced that Neal is a poet of the finest rank, who shares the richness of a rural and deeply American experience.

Tom Peeler

Meditative, familiar, evocative. In the tradition of Mary Oliver, Arlene Neal writes about what we all know and need to remember, valuing small things, memories, the everyday, family and baseball, flowers and birds, daydreams, passing gas, condiments, Cool Whip and figs, loss, sorrow, regret, and the importance of remembering, writing with awful fear someday we might forget, shedding light on all that matters, and like the violets of her first poem, hushing the violence with steady calm.

Scott Owens