|Allen Braden, Susan Rich, me, Oliver de la Paz at the Frye Art Gallery Reading, Nov. 2010|
It's thankful Thursday, time to focus on what I am thankful for. And for those of you who have been reading all year, you know, I'm highlighting a person, blog, or something in my life that means a lot to me and that I want to share with you.
So today's person, if you haven't already guessed it by the title, is Susan Rich, author of The Alchemist's Kitchen, Cures Include Travel and her first award-winning book that gave her an amazing welcome into the poetry world, The Cartographer's Tongue. Susan will also be a featured reader with Major Jackson & Brian Turner at the Seattle Arts & Lecture series which is an incredible series we are thankful to have here in the Northwest.
I met Susan about ten years ago and we really connected after a Poets Against the War reading in Seattle to raise money for the American Red Cross after the September 11th attacks.
I think the thing I am most thankful for is our friendship (& there's a great very unread correspondence between the two of us called On Friendship: A Literary Correspondence between to Poets that we did for the Centrum Writers Conference, which I think shows our friendship well). We have monthly or every-other-month writing dates where we have a routine I so look forward to where she picks me up at the ferry dock and our day begins from coffee to a walk to lunch to writing to back home.
Another thing about our friendship that I appreciate is that I feel we constantly look out for each other, watch for opportunities for the others and then the key, share them with the other. It's not a competitive friendship (which I so love). In fact, I think that is the one thing I have most noticed about my Pacific Northwest poet friends, is that we all help each other succeed. I know Susan has done that for me, in so many ways.
What I admire about Susan is how she actively leads a poet's life, from curating the Jack Straw Writers Program this year to organizing one of my favorite readings of all times at the Frye museum, the first time I was commissioned to write a poem. While teaching full time, she still finds ways to give back to the literary community and be part of the writing life.
She is also an incredible poet. Her work is precise and lyrical. And I remember the first time I bought her book-- I was working on my chapbook called Geography, and I was at the Eagle Harbor bookstore, a small indie bookstore on Bainbridge Island, and I opened to her book (The Cartographer's Tongue), read one poem and said, "I've got to get this." Her poems inspired me as a poet, which is the highest compliment I can give a book of poems.
So today, on a day when I will see Susan Rich tonight as we're reading together (Port Townsend, WA at the Northwind Gallery at 7 pm, if you'd like to join us), I give thanks for her and our friendship.
It has grown over the years from a writing retreat together to teaching together this fall at the Sylvia Beach Hotel on the Oregon coast.
For more about Susan Rich, here are some links:
Her homepage: www.susanrich.net
Her blog, The Alchemist's Kitchen: www.thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com
Find her on Twitter: @susanrichpoet
Her newest book The Alchemist's Kitchen (which has been called "a literary feast)
Opportunities to work with Susan:
Centrum Writers Conference, Port Townsend, WA July
Poets on the Coast, Sept 9-11
And all Susan's Events can be found here.
And as I said, see her tonight in person if you're in the Northwest!
Many thanks to you Susan for your friendship and your poetic life in the world.