Monday, March 18, 2013

The Big Poetry Giveaway 2013 from Me to You

I thought I would follow Kelli's lead and just put a few things about myself here as a way to bring the blogosphere a bit closer to home.

A few things about me:

1. I have a new tuxedo kitten named Mr. Watson, or Waston for short.

2. My fourth book of poems, Cloud Pharmacy, will be published by White Pine Press in 2014.

3. Smoothies are my favorite food --- this may have something to do with liking to mix magical potions.

4. I have lived on three continents but now call Seattle, Washington my home.

5. One of my dreams is to visit India, another is to visit Portugal.

6. My religion is a combination of travel and poetry with visual art tossed in as well.

7. I believe in the number 7.

Now that the giveaway is underway, here is what you can win from here. One book from me, The Alchemist's Kitchen  and one from the fabulous poet, Catherine Barnett, whose book, the game of boxes, won the James Laughlin Award this year. And finally, with the travel season starting, I'm adding a copy of Cures Include Travel.

I thought I would display one poem from each book here. I hope you enjoy one or the other, or both!

Different Places to Pray

Everywhere, everywhere she wrote; something is falling –

a ring of keys slips out of her pocket into the ravine below;

nickels and dimes and to do lists; duck feathers from a gold pillow.

Everywhere someone is losing a favorite sock or a clock stops

circling the day; everywhere she goes she follows the ghost

of her heart; jettisons everything but the shepherd moon, the hopeless cause.

This is the way a life unfolds: decoding messages from profiteroles,

the weight of mature plums in late autumn. She’d prefer a compass

rose, a star chart, text support messages delivered from the net,

even the local pet shop – as long as some god rolls away the gloss

and grime of our gutted days, our global positioning crimes.

Tell me, where do you go to pray – a river valley, a pastry tray?
                                                                ~ Susan Rich, White Pine Press, 2010


I had the pleasure of hearing Catherine read from her new poems at Open Books this past December. She takes the familiar and makes it unfamiliar and yet utterly recognizable. Her poems hold me in a trance like state --- they are lyric missives in the way that Rilke or Cavafy write lyric poems.

  This is what Ilya Kaminsky writes of Barnett's work: "This collection is utterly modern, particular, and strange-- strange as in not previously visited, strange as in deeply original."

Here's a poem called "Chorus," of which there are several throughout the book -- like a Greek tragedy.


So who mothers the mothers who tend the hallways of mothers, 
the spill of mothers, the smell of mothers, 
who mend the eyes of mothers, 
the lies of mothers scared to turn on lights in basements 
filled with mothers called by mothers in the dark, 
the kin of mothers, the gin of mothers, 
mothers out on bail, 
who mothers the hail-mary mothers 
asleep in their stockings 
while the crows sing heigh ho carrion crow, 
fol de riddle, lol de riddle, 
carry on, carry on—

~Catherine Barnett, game of boxes, Graywolf Press, 2013

Cures Include Travel navigates the space between exploring the world and needing to find a landscape of home. The locations move between Sarajevo, Bosnia where I worked as a human rights supervisor just after the war to Seattle, WA where I began teaching at a local community college and working with  many Somali-American students.

Mohamud at the Mosque 

            - for my student upon his graduation

And some time later in the lingering
blaze of summer, in the first days
after September 11th you phoned –

if I don’t tell anyone my name I’ll
pass for an African American.
And suddenly, this seemed a sensible solution –

the best protection: to be a black man
born in America, more invisible than
Somalian, Muslim, asylum seeker –

Others stayed away that first Friday
but your uncle insisted that you pray.
How fortunes change so swiftly

I hear you say. And as you parallel
park across from the Tukwila
mosque, a young woman cries out –

her fears unfurling beside your battered car
go back where you came from!
You stand, both of you, dazzling there

in the mid-day light, her pavement
facing off along your parking strip.
You tell me she is only trying

to protect her lawn, her trees,
her untended heart – already
alarmed by its directive.

And when the neighborhood
policeman appears, asks
you, asks her, asks the others –

So what seems to be the problem
He actually expects an answer,
as if any of us could name it –

as if perhaps your prayers
chanted as this cop stands guard
watching over your windshield

during the entire service
might hold back the world
we did not want to know.

       --- Susan Rich

Leave a comment here and you will be automatically entered in the Big Poetry Giveaway. I'll draw two names on May 1st and announce the winners shortly after that. No blog needed to enter, just an email and a note!


  1. Susan, I've always like that poem of yours that ends with the pastry tray line. Also, I will have to check out Catherine Barnett's book. I like the "Mother" poem a lot.

  2. I have your wonderful book and just received 'the game of boxes', which I'm looking forward to reading.

    Hope the giveaway this year is a great success.

  3. I would love to win either book; thankyou for doing a giveaway!

    thisquiethour at gmail dot com

  4. I was referred to your blog by Erin Hollowell. Thanks for participating in the great poetry giveaway!


  5. I'm ready to join The Great Poetry Giveaway! You continue to inspire!

  6. Susan, what a great idea for National Poetry Month. Thanks for this generous and fun activity!

  7. This is a great idea. National Poetry Month early!

  8. I like both poems. I do love this time of year when I find out what I should be looking for and reading!


  9. Has anyone figured out a way to leave a comment on Moira's blog?

  10. thank you susan. this is a great thing. i'm in.

  11. What a wonderful idea. I wish I had a blog! Susan

  12. Powerful!!! I particularly loved the last one. Super. Mary

  13. I would love to go into the draw

    upsidedownpoet at gmail dot com

  14. Hi Susan. I really enjoyed Mohamud at the Mosque. A real powerful, emotional piece. I would love to win a copy of one of your books. My email address is:

    Take care.

  15. Please add my name to your hat
    briarcat @ gmail etc

  16. I'd be up for winning any of these!


    whipplea [at] gmail [dot] [com]

  17. Thank you for a lovely start to this day.

  18. Thanks so much for putting this all together! Excited to participate and yes, please enter me!

    - Rena

  19. Thank you so much for this wonderful giveaway and a Happy National Poetry Month to you!

  20. Would love to be considered - thanks for hosting this year!

  21. Free poetry for poetry month! What a wonder. I've read selections from your recent book, Susan, and from Catherines. I think both are marvelous, but so difficult to find in local bookstores! Very soon you'll see some poetry of mine... Take care!

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Who do I talk to when I pray? Myself,
    the universe, or the empty blue sky?

  24. Please count me in too.
    Cheers & thanks for all of your work with this giveaway. It's the first year I've been involved & I'm very excited about it.

  25. Thank you for participating in the giveaway

  26. Thanks so much for celebrating Poetry Month this way. I loved the poetry sampler and am so looking forward to Cloud Pharmacy!

  27. What a gift to read these poems tonight. Thank you and please put my name in the hat!

  28. Please sign me up--would love to get either of these fine books!

  29. Susan, these all sound grrrrreat. Count me in. And many many thanks for organizing this.

  30. I am particularly fond of the last one.
    You can reach me at barriesaxxy@gmail if you draw my name.
    Hooray for poetry!

  31. Susan -- thanks for this! I'd love to play!
    xo katrina

  32. Your poems are simply gorgeous! Thrilled to participate.

    ivy973 (at)

  33. Dropping my name in...!
    linksfreude ( ) gmail ( ) com

  34. The last poem calls me to savor it. Very powerful poetry!!!

  35. I have just stumbled upon your blog as well as this giveaway. Is it open internationally?

    May I just say how delightful I think it is that you have a tuxedo cat named Mr. Watson? :)

    mrsdayseye at tiscali dot it

    1. Yes, we are open internationally! Thanks for joining us!

  36. Thanks for doing this!

    - Andrew
    eldritch00 at gmail dot com

  37. I have not had the chance to read any contemporary poetry. I don't know who or where to begin. Entering this contest seemed like a good way to start. Thank you very much for participating in this give away.


  38. I loved 'Mohamud at the Mosque'. So wise.

  39. I would love to win any and all. I can't have enough poetry books and I learn something about my own writing from every poem I read.

    luvbritlit at gmail dot com

  40. Susan: Please sign me up for your book giveaway! If I happen to be lucky enough to be an honored winner this year of your book, I will write a review and promote it through the Vermont Poetry Newsletter (& Poetry Event Calendar), which now receives over 1M hits/year. I'd be just as excited to receive Catherine's book; when I heard her read at the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, just over the hills from where I live, I think she changed my life! I'll be crossing my fingers and hope to soon find any of your selections in my personal poetry library! Ron Lewis, VPN Editor (

  41. I enjoyed the poems you shared and would love to read more.

    Poppy Herrin

  42. Please count me in. Thanks! Nandini

  43. Very much enjoyed all three of these, having just now
    happily stumbled onto your site, after googling various phrases,
    to see if they were in use, and how, like pocket goddess,
    kitchen’s pocket alchemist, . . . and so on

    my favourite lines, form the three poems, on first read:

    Tell me, where do you go to pray – a river valley, a pastry tray?

    her untended heart – already
    alarmed by its directive.

    while the crows sing heigh ho carrion crow,

    o_lhamo at

  44. what a great idea, Susan. Please enter me,

    Pat Fargnoli (

  45. Wheee! Sliding by at the last minute to enter :-))

  46. Please add me to the drawing Susan. Thanks!

  47. I'm still missing one of your books, so fingers crossed!