Blog tour: A Wild and Precious Life: A Recovery Anthology, edited by Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert

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This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

“We’ll all experience recovery at some point in our lives, whether from addiction, physical illness, mental health issues or loss. Many of us heal, and we may discover ways to live with our changed selves, to reclaim a life. We may find a new voice, or unearth a voice that has been submerged.

“Vitally, recovery can mean community. This anthology – which grew out of a small creative writing class run by Lily Dunn at Hackney Recovery Service, and was later broadened into a nationwide call for submissions by Dunn and her teaching partner, Zoe Gilbert – represents a community of writers: new, unheard voices alongside emerging and established authors.

“Theirs are stories from the dark back alleys, the deep crevices of the mind, and from the wild, ecstatic heights of life before, during and after recovery. These are voices that urgently need to be heard, in all their variety.”

A Wild and Precious Life

A Wild and Precious Life is a really special book. An eclectic collection of poems and short stories about recovering from a variety of circumstances, I found it moving, powerful, and very human.

The pieces in this anthology are written by authors from a range of backgrounds, who have all had to rebuild themselves from rock bottom. The writing is consistently brilliant and unflinching, and gave me a real insight into lot of different experiences. Even when a piece of writing described the worst of situations, the fact that the author was still around, and able to write about it in such an engaging way, gave me a sense of hope.

This book shows how writing can be a vital part of recovery. The project came out of a creative writing class the editors ran for people recovering from addiction, which helped attendees process and make sense of their experiences, while also discovering and nurturing a creative skill and building their confidence. It demonstrates the importance of the arts, and how they should go hand-in-hand with more clinical interventions when it comes to helping people not only to get better, but to thrive.

I particularly related to, and felt validated by, the poems and stories from those who, like myself, have experienced mental illness, and there are some parts of the book I can see myself turning to for comfort again and again. Something else that struck me as I was reading was the importance of the kindness, patience, and belief of others in aiding recovery, whether that’s from friends, family, medical staff, or other support workers.

A Wild and Precious Life is a powerful and moving collection that demonstrates the power of writing.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK