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Eyes Moving Through the Dark

essays by William Woolfitt


*Available for pre-order.*


Orison Books
paper  /  $20.00
Print ISBN: 978-1-949039-49-8
E-book ISBN: 978-1-949039-53-5

Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
952-223-8373  /
Publication Date: November 5, 2024




In this collection, each letter of the alphabet breathes and lives, even the ghost letters, the ancient runes still whispering and inviting us to listen closely to what we have lost but also to what remains. Infused with a love of language and of place, Woolfitt’s lyric essays reckon with the complex inheritance of both—language that holds as much cruelty as wonder, the place of Appalachia that holds histories of resilience and stewardship, of Cherokee internment camps and ecological disaster. The author draws us into the intimate spaces of a son’s speech delay and the loss of beloved grandparents even as he draws us outward across time and space, yielding portraits of self-taught artists like Bessie Harvey and Howard Finster and natural histories of yucca and the great auk. These essays seek the beauty and justice that might be remade in our ruined places, and, in their seeking, become a form of prayer.




"I read the whole book like I had been drowning and Woolfitt's words were air. Eyes Moving Through the Dark documents loss, but Woolfitt fills that emptiness with sharp beauty and soft grace. If we no longer have the abalone, the letter ð, farm, Eden, buffalo, ash tree, coal, gray wolf, zinc violet, at least we are lucky enough to have these letters and these words. Hold onto this book like we should have held onto all that we have sent missing."
Nicole Walker, author of Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

"A sprawling Appalachian palimpsest, writing and rewriting the lives and histories of this singular American region. William Woolfitt's gaze encompasses all that is beautiful and complicated about the land he calls home, and his family within it."
Alejandra Oliva, author of Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith and Migration


"In Eyes Moving Through the Dark, William Woolfitt works roots. He starts with the roots of language itself and tells the stories of the aleph and iota, the æ and the ƿ. He goes on to work with the roots of the trees and plants of the deep woods in and around his Appalachian home, a place rich with the work of folk artists, activists, grandmothers, and healers of all kinds. In such rich loam these roots stretch and entangle themselves, making collaborations, friendships, and kin with each other, just as each of Woolfitt’s essays seeks to do. This is an extraordinary book that celebrates the beautiful possibilities for connection that exist between and among people, plants, critters, creeks, and the troubled waters of the hard histories we share."

Kathryn Nuernberger, author of The Witch of Eye


"Eyes Moving Through the Dark looks for flashes of transcendence in warped branches and silences, cracked hands and barbed wire. William Woolfitt curates and accumulates these bits of the world into an alphabetically arranged guide about what’s around us but also far beyond this physical plane. This is a marvel of a book."
Jeremy B. Jones, author of Bearwallow

"We have in these pages a primer for those who are ready to take 'a long and careful look' at ourselves, the landscape, the English language, and the past. To bear such witness takes courage and can weigh on the heart, but willingness recompenses us with lessons in 'empathy and mercy.' Eyes Moving Through the Dark shines a light on exemplars who, even in times of blindness, serve as guides."
Amy Wright, author of Paper Concert



William Woolfitt is the author of four poetry collections and two story collections, including Ring of Earth (stories) and The Night the Rain Had Nowhere to Go (poems). His fiction chapbook The Boy with Fire in His Mouth (2014) was selected by Darin Strauss as the winner of The Epiphany Editions Chapbook Contest. He is the recipient of The Howard Nemerov Scholarship from The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and The Denny C. Plattner Award from Appalachian Review.

Eyes Moving Through the Dark, essays by William Woolfitt

$20.00 Regular Price
$18.00Sale Price
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