Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poet Extraordinaire January O'Neil Interviews Me Today

Thanks to January O'Neil for her interview with me on PoetMom today! January and I will be reading together in Cambridge, Mass and Miami, Florida in just a few weeks. It's my first out of the northwest tour and I am so happy to have January as my poet and travel companion.

Here is an excerpt from the interview which you can read in full right here: 

Q. The Alchemist’s Kitchen is such an intriguing title. How did you know that was the right title for this collection?

A. For Cures Include Travel I sent out a list of six titles to a group of my friends to see which one they liked best. Not surprisingly, they all had very strong preferences but the trouble was, no one agreed. I went back and forth on several titles. Happily, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, was my one and only title for this book. I think that it serves as a vessel for the disparate themes I’ve braided throughout the book: solitude/imagination/relationship. As poets, we take the everyday flotsam and jetsam of our lives and try to elevate it to something universal, a reality that others can enter. Alchemy comes from the ancient Arabic word al-kimia which was both a philosophy and a practice of changing base metals into gold, but the ultimate goal was to achieve wisdom. In fact, the discoveries of the alchemists are the prototypes for modern chemistry. Later, after the book was published, I found that the alchemists were also seeking the secret of everlasting life and that Carl Jung had reexamined alchemy to recast its meaning to be a spiritual path into the self. The more I learn of alchemy, of creating what we desire out of what we have, the more I appreciate the title.

Thanks, January!


  1. Excellent interview, Susan. I read it in full on January's site.

  2. Safe and happy travels on your tour.

  3. Nice, thoughtful interview to match a thoughtful book of poems.

    And thanks for mentioning the book on putting together a manuscript. Just ordered it!