Thank you California Journal of Poetics - The Alchemist's Kitchen Reviewed

Giving Thanks to the California Journal of Poetics Tonight!

   It's been a long day of putting words on paper and then scratching them out again. Sometimes, and this is true more and more the last few years, it feels impossible to write poems that I am really proud of. Maybe it's that I live in a constant state of self doubt and the more years on the planet, the more time those doubts have to coalesce.
Don't get me wrong, I also believe that any good writer needs self doubt in order to improve - sometimes I just wish that the voice that taunts "so you think that's a poem?" might take a bit of a holiday. 

Let me also thank Carrie MONIZ who I have never met for her thoughtful and spot on reading of my work. Reviewing poetry is an act of generosity and I am thankful for my book falling into such kind hands. And if you are still looking for a holiday gift for yourself or a poetry loving friend, you can order The Alchemist's Kitchen from my website where I will add in Cures Include Travel if you purchase The Alchemist's Kitchen before December 31.

Here is the beginning of the review. To read the entire peace click here

The beauty and musicality of the English language cannot be overlooked in Susan Rich’s third book, The Alchemist’s Kitchen(a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year). She invents new forms and reinvents the tried and true, exploring every device and tool with a keen ear and deft tongue.

Rich has an incredible ability to articulate the essence of a moment or emotion in few words—especially through the use of striking similes and metaphors. In the poem, “The Never Born Comes of Age,” the slow pace of time is described as “hours / hunched like dogs no one could move.” This image alone, in the context of the poem (a mother mourning her pregnancy which ambiguously ends in “loss streaming across cow dung and thistle”), is enough to make the reader grow heavy with the speaker’s emotional burden—the heartache felt by an “almost mother.”

Mahmoud Darwish
photo from the Palestine Monitor
In “Re-Imagining My Life with Lions,” which meditates on the epigraph by Mahmoud Darwish—“There is no death, only a change of worlds”—the speaker reveals that he or she “want[s] to live another life—a poplar tree in a row / of blue pine along a cobbled road,” though it isn’t for lack of beauty in this world. The lines, “Each day unfurls, fragrant / as a botanist’s notes from the road,” are so saturated with the enduring passion one has for the world—the lingering scent, the cataloguing and acute observations—that only one sensitive to life’s ephemeral nature could articulate such a comparison. The speaker’s desire to live another life does not evoke thoughts of pity or disparity. Rather, it continues to evoke To continue reading click here


  1. Wonderful review and so well-deserved.

    Wishing you the joy and peace of the holiday season and much continued writing success.

  2. Susan, I'm thrilled you liked the review! It is a powerful, beautiful collection and it was my pleasure to review it. Thank you for the acknowledgement! --Carrie


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