Cathy’s Book

Cathy is Published!  Her first book of poetry came out in December 2015, published by Jannie Dresser with Sugartown Publishing.  You can read the book’s introduction below.  The title poem of the book won 2nd place in the Dancing Poetry Festival 2014.

AL Catherine Elizabeth Dana (2)


Cathy Dana cover_lg

                                                                                                                       Introduction by Cathy

How can a daughter ever capture in words what her father means to her? How can she take what is in her heart, her bones, her memories, and translate them into words on paper? How can words ever do justice to a relationship so multi-layered, so complex, so dear, so intimate, so frustrating, so fraught with peril, so steeped in realms far below conscious awareness—deeper than bone marrow, softer than skin, more fiery than the sun?

It is an impossible task, and yet it is also a hero’s journey to express the inexpressible, to describe the indescribable. I didn’t set out to write a book of poems about my dad. Words came to me—images, feelings, questions, ponderings found me, took root in me, didn’t just urge me to write but compelled me to write them down.

I didn’t know it was the last two weeks of my dad’s life—-one never knows for certain how much time one has left with a loved one. I didn’t know, yet something in me made me write down anything, everything that happened: the scene, the characters, his words, my thoughts. These promptings from a deep place in me danced their way out of me as poems and stories; images about love, suffering, injustice, loss, beauty, honesty, about what is worth living for as we find ourselves sometimes groping in the dark, sometimes seeing it all bright as day.

At my dad’s memorial service, I asked my brothers to speak about what they learned from our dad. I know there are thoughts and ideas that can be articulated and others beneath words, deep inside like a reservoir of resource. What does one say at the memorial of her father? What had my brothers learned from our dad? What had I learned?

We all grapple with love and loss, heartbreak and immeasurable joy. Whether we knew our parents or not, we came from them, from an unbreakable tie. The Italians call it La Voce del Sangue, the voice of the blood. Scientifically, we know it as the blending of two sets of DNA forming a being that has never existed in the universe and never will again. From the first moment of conception we are plunged into the heart of the mystery of life—who are we? Where did we come from? Who are our parents? What is the nature of our love, our journey together and apart? What matters? How do we make meaning of it all?

Poetry flows like an underground spring, coming up from geological layers to behold the light. These poems are an expression of my self, my spirit, my soul pondering deep questions: exploring, sometimes wrestling, sometimes mourning, sometimes singing my heart out. I wish to live fully, breathe deeply, partake of life, share my gifts. I wish to honor my father, his life, my relationship with him. I invite the reader to come with me.


What others are saying about Cathy’s book

In “My Dad Believed in Love,” Cathy Dana brings lyrical prose to life with her evocation of a father-daughter relationship “deeper than bone marrow, softer than skin, more fiery than the sun.” She takes us through childhood memories, her own and her father’s, his experiences in World War II, his injured leg, his parenting, his aging and his dying. Cathy carries her father lovingly, “in a blue blanket,” wrapped in her love. The tenderness is clear: “Thanks to my dad, I am not skinny. I am willowy.” She praises the natural world’s beauty while her father slips away from it: “It’s beautiful outside, the shimmering estuary, the cormorants and wild geese, the blue sky and warm sun. I wheel him outside and he likes it, this moment of beauty.” With such lovingkindness, Cathy shares an intimate view of an adored parent who passed his wisdom to her, and a love of family and of words. The depth of Cathy’s love is apparent on every page.

–Julia Park Tracey, Amaryllis: Collected Poems, Alameda Poet Laureate


“The poems and essays in My Dad Believed in Love, by Catherine Elizabeth Dana, constitute a moving tribute to the author’s father, Alfred Langdon Dana, who was known to his friends and family as Lang. The book, which covers the events of Lang’s life from childhood through old age, not only honors and celebrates Lang but also shows why Dana loved her father and how we can find our way through the labyrinth of grief.”

— Lucille Lang Day, author of Married at Fourteen and Becoming an Ancestor



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