Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Poet Is A Poet Because of Other People

Prospero Book Store, Kansas City, The Longest Poetry Reading

As part of the "poetries in community project" Chris Tanasescu also known as Margento (his band and stage name) commissioned this essay from me awhile back. What a lovely surprise to find that it is now on-line at the University of Ottawa website. "A Poet Is A Poet Because Of Other People" references a poem titled "A Person Is A Person Because Of Other People,"  by the South African poet, Jeremy Cronin.

From my essay referenced above:

I think if we look close enough, we’ll find that every serious poet who produces work over a lifetime has poets whom she can rely on. We need poets to drink coffee with, to talk craft with and finally (when it’s almost too late) to retell favorite stories of past and future dreams. Maybe because poetry is so far from the mainstream of American life, we need reminders that our hours, days, weeks, lifetimes spent in seclusion are okay. More than okay.

I know that without my dearest poetry friends: Kelli Russell Agodon and Katherine Flenniken I would not be as brave as a poet. Without my dearest poetry teachers: Madeline DeFrees, Pamela Alexander, Linda Pastan, and Garrett Hongo, I would not be as well trained in the craft (yes, there is much room for improvement). Without my dead mentors: Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop and Anne Sexton, I would not have begun writing at all.


To read the rest of the essay go to the University of Ottawa right here. In this piece I reflected on five intersecting rings that have been important to me as a poet. Five golden rings in time for the holidays!


  1. Wonderful article, Susan -- I just read the whole article and love the way you capture the necessity and many forms of community. You modestly left out the many communities you have instigated: Booklift, A Poet At Your Table, Poets on the Coast… I'm grateful for each of them.

  2. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I really appreciate your kind words -- and they mean a lot coming from you.