About

I began pecking away on an old manual typewriter in childhood and never stopped. My work explores things that tend to divide us, so that we might wrestle our way into deeper understandings of ourselves and others.

I have authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, memoir, and poetry. My latest book is Staying Power: Writings from a Pandemic Year (forthcoming, 2021). Other recent titles include For the Sake of One We Love and Are Losing: A Meditative Poem & Journal; Beneath the Same Stars: A Novel of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War; and Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poetry (co-edited with Ruby R. Wilson).

I have also published four music albums, including Beautiful Is the Moon (2003), Friends (2006), Child of All Earth (2007), and Tis a Gift: Christmas by Guitar (2009).

Born in 1962 in the farming community of Mt. Blanchard, Ohio, I eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (English, 1984) from Goshen College; a Master of Theological Studies (1987) from the Methodist Theological School; and a Master of Arts (English, 1993) from The Ohio State University.

I now live with my scientist-husband, college-bound son, and two cats in a cozy 130-year-old house in Brookings, South Dakota.

These videos will help you learn more about me:

An introduction to my work
"Let's Mend the World Together"

Creative Work

Writing

Staying Power: Writings from a Pandemic Year (forthcoming, Bell Sound Books, 2021)

For the Sake of One We Love and Are Losing: A Meditative Poem & Journal (Bell Sound Books, 2020)

Beneath the Same Stars: A Novel of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War (One Sky Press, 2018)

Practicing Presence: Insights from the Streets (Bell Sound Books, 2018)

The Emptiness of Our Hands: 47 Days on the Streets (authored with James Murray, now in its third edition, Bell Sound Books 2018)

Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems (co-edited with Ruby Wilson, Grayson Books, 2017)

The Book of the World: A Contemporary Scripture (edited and published on behalf of an unknown author, 2008)


 

The following early titles aren’t representative of my current work, but I remain grateful for my experiences in writing them and deeply appreciative of my co-authors: 

Having the Mind of Christ (co-authored with Paul E. Miller, Abingdon Press, 1996; second edition issued as 365 Days of Spiritual Growth Through Scripture, Meditation and Practice, 1997)

Prayers for One Voice (co-authored with Everett Tilson, Abingdon Press, 1993)

Litanies and Other Prayers for the Common Lectionary: Years A, B, C (three-volume series co-authored with Everett Tilson, Abingdon Press, 1989-1991; second revised edition of the series issued as Litanies and Other Prayers for the Revised Common Lectionary: Years A, B, C, 1992-1994)

Video Sampler

“What to Do When the Muse Wakes You Up,” one of my author presentations at the 2020 South Dakota Virtual Festival of Books.

Author interview on “Keloland Living.”

Audio Sampler

My wide-ranging author interview on Krista Johnstad’s “Voice Rising” on OM Times Radio.

Staying Power podcast episodes (2020)

My reading of For the Sake of One We Love and Are Losing (2020)

The Emptiness of Our Hands interview on Nick Schmeichel’s Tale Feather Podcast (2020)

Beneath the Same Stars audiobook sample (narrator: Elena Marino, 2019)

Author interview on Inspirational Author Podcast with host Howard Lovy of the Alliance of Independent Authors (2019)

Beneath the Same Stars interview on Nick Schmeichel’s Tale Feather Podcast (2019)

Poetry of Presence and Beneath the Same Stars interview on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s “In the Moment” with host Lori Walsh and my co-editor Ruby R. Wilson (2019)

Beneath the Same Stars interview on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s “In the Moment” with Lori Walsh (2019)

Beneath the Same Stars interview on Hank Garner’s Author Stories Podcast (2019)

Poetry of Presence interview on “Poetry á la Carte.” (2018)

Poetry of Presence interview on Minnesota radio with co-editor Ruby R. Wilson and contributing poet Marianne Murphy Zarzana (2018)

My reading of “Grateful, Grateful,” a community poem I composed from brief gratitude lists submitted by readers of my newsletter (2019)

My reading of  “On How to Pick and Eat Poems,” a gesture of gratitude to the readers of A Year of Being Here at the end of that three-year project (2016)

Land Acknowledgment

 

I reside and work in the traditional homeland of the Oceti Ŝakowiŋ, the “Seven Council Fires” of the Dakota, Nakota and Lakota confederacy (more commonly called the Great Sioux Nation). I pay tribute to their long kinship with this land, which has shaped their identity, and I strive to walk upon it with a good heart. Some of my writing reflects my desire to better understand their cultures and to grapple with the painful realities of Euro-American colonization, genocide, and forced assimilation, both past and present.

Press Kit

Downloadable Headshots

Short Bio / Speaking Introduction

Phyllis Cole-Dai began writing on an old manual typewriter in childhood and never stopped. She uses the arts to heal what divides our spirits and communities, nurturing radical attention and belonging. She has edited or authored eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction, and poetry. Born in a farming community in Ohio, she now resides in a cozy 130-year-old house in Brookings, South Dakota, with her husband, college-bound son and two cats. Learn more at phylliscoledai.com.

We got through the pandemic together.
Why stop now?

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