Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Porter Square Books Tonight at 7:00 PM -

Susan Rich and Jennifer Markell, The Cloud Pharmacy and Samsara

04/30/2014 7:00 pm
"Cloud Pharmacy is a book of lyric fire. In our epoch of quick and shallow literary conversation it is rare to come across such level of attentiveness as one finds in this book."
                                                                     Ilya Kaminsky

"The poems of Samsara represent the beautiful exploitation of our objective reality, reintroducing us to and reinvigorating a world that has been here all along but that most of us fail to recognize or to see most fully. These observations are mediated by a deep belief that we are all the same on this planet, and all equally deserving of grace. This is a very fine debut, deserving of our attention."    
                                                                      Bruce Weigl

Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry, The Cartographer’s Tongue / Poems of the WorldCures Include TravelThe Alchemist’s Kitchen, and Cloud Pharmacy. She has received awards from PEN USA, The Times Literary Supplement, and Peace Corps Writers. Her fellowships include an Artists Trust Fellowship from Washington State and a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa.

Jennifer Markell'spoems have been published in journals nationally and internationally, including The Aurorean (Featured Poet),ConsequenceThe Hawaii Pacific ReviewRhino, andPoetry from Sojourner, A Feminist Anthology. She is the author of an award-winning chapbook, Leaving the Green Elm Market. Her poetry has been displayed at Boston City Hall, and she was selected to read her work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Jennifer lives with her husband in Jamaica Plain, MA and works as a psychotherapist with a special interest in therapeutic uses of writing

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Love Having Creative Friends~

Thank you so much to Katie Woodzick for transforming a cool idea into reality. Kelli and I are teaching at Portlandia's Woman to Woman Bookstore and we forgot to tell you. Thank goodness for Katie!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Some Cool Things: Ebooks, Marge Piercy, Travel, and Life -- UPDATED!

Would she have preferred an ebook?

Thanks to the wonderful women of Two Sylvias Press for bringing Cloud Pharmacy into the 21st century. Right now, thanks to Kelli Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy, you can preview my book on Amazon and even get a free read of the book via ebook when you buy a hard copy on Amazon.  This is not an advertisement for Amazon, it is merely the only place where you can buy both the physical book and read the ebook for one price. 

I am wondering why you would want a physical and an electronic copy? And I think I know. One copy to keep on a bedside table (physical) and one to take on long trips (electronic). I also see that that electronic copies reach customers immediately, no waiting two days for something you want now.

Indeed it's a strange new world.

And speaking of travel. I will be on book tour reading at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass; at Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, Mass for the Tannery Series; and with Marge Piercy and Oliver de la Paz at the Mass Poetry Festival.

Finally, this seems a time of life to think about what is really important. Is it reading to new audiences or writing new poems? Is it new travels or replenishing the garden? A new book in the world somehow works to make life's questions more pressing --- or perhaps it's just middle life.

Updated information - If you purchase Cloud Pharmacy here, the Kindle version is only $2.99

Monday, April 21, 2014

Breaking News: Elizabeth Bishop House for Sale

The childhood home of Elizabeth Bishop in Great Village, Nova Scotia is for sale as of today. For the last ten years it's been run as a non-profit and hosted poets from around the world. I so hope whomever buys it will continue its important legacy. This is the house Elizabeth Bishop loved most and lived in until she was forced to move to Worcester, Massachusetts. Find out all about the home and how it can be yours right here. 

Road Trip on the Horizon - You Come, Too!

If it's April it must be National Poetry Month but what happens the rest of the year? You can keep the wild momentum of poetry writing well into May by attending  a workshop at In Other Words in Portland. Have you ever watched Portlandia? This is "that" bookstore!

Kelli Russell Agodon and I will travel to Portland to give a reading at the Press Club on Wednesday night, May 21st and then facilitate our only Portland writing workshop on Friday, May 23rd. Whether you live in Portland or think a spring road trip sounds alluring, this generating new work and learning about publication might just be for you.

Kelli and I plan on doing our part

The Details:

WHEN: FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2014, NOON - 3 PM



(beginner to well‐published  author)

HOW MUCH: $86 (includes a free chapbook for each participant)

This class is designed for all levels of poets utilizing different writing exercises
including working from the visual arts to help kick-start new poems. Enjoy creative
prompts that help you move deeper into your writing. You will learn new strategies to
create poems and by doing so, push your writing to new places. We will wrap-up the
afternoon with a salon-style discussion of poetry publication. In addition, each poet
will leave with a new listing of poetry journals and a chapbook of poems.

To register for this class, mail a check for $86 made out to Kelli Agodon:

Kelli Agodon

PO Box 1524

Kingston, WA 98346

Or visit: to register online with PayPal.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Elliott Bay Book Company !


I bet these folks are jumping for joy because they are in the best full service bookshop on the planet.  Join Laura Neuman and me for a poetry celebration tonight, 7:00 PM at Elliott Bay Books.

What better way to spend a rainy Saturday night? Would be so happy to see you there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Quick Trip to Port Townsend -- 7 PM Reading with Kelli Russell Agodon

Well, poetry 7 PM on Thursday night is really what we mean here! What better place to read than in an art gallery? This is especially true given our two books, Cloud Pharmacy and Hourglass Museum. Kelli Russell Agodon and I are excited to spend an evening with old friends --- and meet new ones.

For each of my books I've done a reading here and so it's a kind of homecoming. Northwind Gallery now hosts an ekphrastic poetry night each year where local poets write inspired by the gallery show.

Looking forward to a beautiful night in Port Townsend

Sunday, April 6, 2014

From Around the Web: Fiction Writers Robin Black and Donna Miscolta Get Poetic

Would you like to read a  few words on being a happier writer --- and person --- not to mention learning a way to better understand writer friends and partners? Fiction writer Robin Black writes "21 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Stared Writing," concerning everything from being true to your own aesthetic to knowing when you're asking too much of other writers (or they are asking too much of you). It's a great list and seems about to go viral --- if it hasn't already. Here are the first few and the link to her blog Beyond the Margins if you want to continue reading.

1. Publication doesn’t make you a writer. Publication makes you a published writer. Writing makes you a writer.

2. Your “writer friends” are suddenly going to seem a lot more interesting, understanding, sympatico, and just plain fun than the friends (and sometimes family) you had before you threw yourself into this pursuit. I mean, they get you! But be gentle with the ones who were there all along – and remember the support they’ve given you, and the care, and try not to hurt their feelings by making it clear how much more compelling the ones who “speak writer” now seem. (And may not always seem. . . )

3. The best you can do is the best you can do. There’s a fine line between learning from other authors, and trying to be them. Be yourself. There are more than enough different types of readers out there for us all. I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted wishing my work were more “hip”  and “edgier.” And every single moment was indeed a waste of time. I didn’t even like much of the writing I wanted to emulate. I just liked the attention heaped on the people who wrote it. Write the book you’d most like to read – not the one you think will win over the editor du jour.

4. Not everyone will love your work. Not everyone will like your work. Some people will hate your work. Don’t put energy into pursuing the fantasy of universal adoration. It has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with guaranteeing that you’ll never be satisfied.  Read More Here

I also want to thank Donna Miscolta for the review of Cloud Pharmacy that she wrote here and which I've excerpted below. Donna is a fiction writer who writes with a poetic sensibility. Check out her powerful novel, When The de la Cruz Family Danced. 

Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press) by Susan Rich

… don’t let go, let go.
                              from the poem,  The Tangible, Intangible

This last line in “The Tangible, Intangible,” one of Susan Rich’s poems inspired by the nineteenth-century photographer Hannah Maynard, captures for me the essence of Cloud Pharmacy, a collection that is intelligent and observant, and which deftly exposes one’s contradictory passions, needs, and even self-regard. Rich addresses several themes in her new book, one of which is grief.

In a section of the book called Dark Room, Rich reflects on the curious and haunting multiple-exposure self-portraits by Maynard, whose daughter died as a teenager. In Rich’s poems, Maynard is a figure that “stands neither in/nor out of the century but floats.” Or, in yet another multiple-exposure, “Hannahs stand here, sit there, bend over …” In another poem, “she overlaps the images and leaves/no line of separation.”

Even in the other poems, the ones on love and fire, there are these opposing perceptions of what is real and what we want to believe. In “There is No Substance That Does Not Carry One Inside of It,” an encroaching fire moves foreigners to politely request action from their Spanish hotelier, who observes the fire, “the little/ flames clearly flirtatious, clearly beyond belief.” Rich creates a sense of the surreal... continue reading Donna Miscolta's review right here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Few Questions for Me from Mass Poetry Festival 2014

I am so honored to be part of this festival; glad that Cloud Pharmacy will take me into the clouds to travel to Boston in May. I've planned very little so far for this book's launch and so I"m really excited to have my home state  be the first real tour (and perhaps only). On Wednesday, April 30th I read at Porter Square Books in Cambridge with Jennifer Markell. On Thursday I'm reading in Newburyport with Rhina Espalt and others. It's going to be a wild time. Please come! Please say hello!

A Look at Susan Rich: 
A Massachusetts Poetry Festival Feature Poet
April 4, 2014 by Katie McGuire Leave a Comment

Susan Rich is a prolific poet with the energy to pursue both her creative and her humanitarian impulses. But the poetry in Rich’s life, as she explains below in her own words, was almost cut short by professors who advised her to try “something else.” Rich set poetry aside for a time, but, lucky enough for all of us, she returned to her craft after twelve long years away.

Rich was educated at our own University of Massachusetts and Harvard University, as well as the University of Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. In Seattle, she teaches at Highline Community College, as well as running a reading series there, “Highline Listens: Writers Read Their Work.”

A Few Questions for Susan Rich

Who had the most impact on your writing when you were a beginning poet? In what way?
I was estranged from poetry when I discovered the beautiful work of Elizabeth Bishop, particularly her poem, “Questions of Travel.” At the time, I had just returned from two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa and felt a great deal of affinity to Ms. Bishop’s life and work. The fact that she had also grown up in Massachusetts, had traveled faraway, and then lived on another continent caught my attention. Her under-appreciated humor and cadenced lines infused with irony and heartbreak have kept me a fan for life. 
Now I live in Seattle and have visited the apartment building (The Brooklyn) where she lived during her time teaching at the University of Washington. It’s as if I am on a lifelong journey with her. Whenever I travel, Bishop’s Complete Poems accompany me. When I teach, I often encourage my students to choose a “Dead Mentor” so that they, too, can claim a poet for life.
What convinced you that you had to be a poet?
Poetry was a constant companion since I was very young. At thirteen I wrote a poem filled with teenage angst and showed it to my English teacher, Mr. Katz. From there, he brought the poem to the principal and before I knew what was happening, my poem became our class graduation performance piece. What a strange and wondrous thing!  Still, flash forward another 10 years and I had all but given up on poetry. I had been told by my university professors that I had better try something else. And for 12 years I did; their condemnation shut me down. It was a very painful period. Yet, when I began writing again, began changing my life to put poetry at the center, I knew that poetry had come back to stay.
What do you think is the most exciting development in poetry today?
New presses popping up in Detroit, Seattle, and lots of other places not traditionally known for publishing houses is one great new thing. Of course these “houses” are often basement sofas, coffee shop offices and pick-up offices. The ability to  record poems and send them over smart phones onto the internet thrills me. I love hearing poets read their own poems.  I love the strangeness of reading my poems into my phone alone in a hotel room or out for a walk and then finding then online in an interview the next day.
To read more of this interview  click here

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Review of Cloud Pharmacy on Goodreads

When I was in third grade my teacher, Miss Schiavo, suggested I keep a notebook of all the books I read. My father gave me one of his brown spiral cast offs with most the pages ripped out but there were just enough left to keep me happy. 

In these notebooks (volume 1 and volume 2) I reinvented myself. Here I had the power to give a five star review to Harriet the Spy and yet the Oxford Book of Children's Verse received only three. For each entry I added title, author, number of pages read (!) and a capsule review, including stars. It was my first step into the world of book reviewing. Later in life I wrote reviews for the Eugene Weekly, and then Library Journal. In other words I have a deep respect and excitement surrounding book reviews.

I am especially grateful for this review of Cloud Pharmacy because of Elbe's emphasis on the slightly surreal in my work. It feels wildly good for a reader to see what's newly intended. Thank you so much to Susan Elbe for taking the time to read Cloud Pharmacy and then praise it, I couldn't have asked for more. 

"This is a beautiful book. There's no other way to say it. Susan Rich is a deep, mindful thinker and a lover of language. Put those two things together and you have Cloud Pharmacy. Not only do I love the title, I love what's between the covers. She writes many ekphrastic poems, using art as a vehicle to write her "one blue life." There's a surreal quality here too, which for me is a delight--not your usual fare. As Rich herself says, "here the interior world opens/lightly." But it doesn't stay that way--she attaches herself "line-by-line-/break to this radiant quarrel,/this pocket-sized, revolutionary pen." Once you enter here, you won't put it down. Highly recommended."
                                                                                    Susan Elbe

And for a couple of more days --- exactly two days --- White Pine Press is hosting a giveaway of Cloud Pharmacy at the Goodreads site. You can enter here