Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mint. Lavender. 1000 Bells.

Mint. Lavender. 100 Bells.

So this is where I've been  spending most of my summer. I love to grow flowers, herbs, and a serious amount of tomatoes --- from black heirlooms to sun golds. Like Ross Gay, I believe that my gardening makes me a better poet.

Soon I will be posting some reviews of recent poetry books and perhaps a few thoughts on compiling my 5th manuscript. For now though, you'll find me in the garden.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Scholarship Offered to Poets on the Coast: Deadline Monday at Midnight

Come Write Along the River

The Rich-Russell Scholarship grants one woman poet a free three day registration for Poets on the Coast in the river town of La Conner, Washington. Join us for the 6th annual Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women which includes workshops on generating new work, the art of revision, morning yoga and one-on-one consultations.

The deadline for the Scholarship is this Monday at midnight. The application is easy! Please 
click here for further details.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Academy of American Poets --- Thank You

Spring must really be the season of poetry. I feel like I've joined the grown-up poets --- at least for one day. My poem, Boketto, was published in the Poem-a-Day program today. I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of emails I've received from dear friends and strangers.

The word, Boketto, is Japanese for staring without purpose. I tweaked the meaning --- as translation so often does --- to stare out windows without purpose. Thanks to January O'Neil for encouraging me to send (and re-send) my poems to Alex Dimitrov who curates Poem-a-Day.

Here are the first few lines and a link to hear me read the poem as well as a few sentences on where the idea came from.


Susan Rich

Outside my window it’s never the same—
some mornings jasmine slaps the house, some mornings sorrow.

There is a word I overheard today, meaning lost
not on a career path or across a floating bridge:

Boketto—to stare out windows without purpose.
Don’t laugh; it’s been too long since we leaned

into the morning: bird friendly coffee and blueberry toast. Awhile
since I declared myself a prophet of lost cats—blind lover

of animal fur and feral appetites. Someone should tag
a word for the calm of a long marriage. Knowledge

the heat will hold, and our lights remain on— a second

--- to read the rest of the poem tap here


Sunday, June 5, 2016

This Poem Was 40 Years in the Making - Thanks to Plume It's Here

I first met Paul on a bus. I was on my way from Boston to visit my sister in New York. Along the way, the bus broke down. No cell phones, no two way radios on board.  After awhile a blurry eyed Brit in the seat directly behind me woke up and said, "Hello." In the four extra hours we had by the side of the road a friendship formed. When I studied in England, Paul was already out of the country but his mother took care of me as if I were her own child.

Fast forward 40 years.

Thanks to the magic of FaceBook we reconnected.  This poem was inspired by a quick airport visit. This summer my partner and I will travel to London to see him and meet his family. Traveling by poem I'd call it.

Here is the poem thanks to Plume for publishing it!


I look back through the window of a Greyhound Bus
stopped by the side of the road.

Before the cell phone or CB radio—

I travel back to the boy and girl wrought golden
in this-moment-before-we-grow-old.

His earth brown eyes reveal
a passion for simple rock face,
the feel of striation beneath well-trained hands.

Along the shoulder of the Massachusetts Turnpike,
in an age before water bottles or sensible snacks,

Press here for Plume and the rest of the poem

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fellowship Offered for Poets on the Coast: 3 Day Writing Retreat for Women

Join the poets Sept 9 - 11th
Kelli Russell Agodon and I are busy organizing the 6th Poets on the Coast for September 9 -11th at the Country Inn in La Conner, WA. From one good idea over a glass of wine we've created an annual gathering of poets who come to write, learn, share, and dream ourselves into the next best poem we can write.

Each poet has an individual session with Susan or Kelli to get whatever questions answered that they most need to ask. We go on a field trip to the oldest house in La Conner (Katy's Inn)  and out to the Northwest Museum of Art. What better way then to transition from summer into fall? We have two spots left!

This year we are also offering a Fellowship which allows one poet to attend the long weekend for free! (Accommodation is separate but one Fellow decided to camp last year and another shared a room at Katy's Inn.

To apply for this years POTC Fellowship you just send us three poems and a paragraph on why this Fellowship is what you need and why you need it now. Here are the details: on our website.  You can apply now until July 18th! To simply register now for one of our last two spaces go here!

We also have a Sacred Journal workshop on Friday afternoon (September 9th). If you want to just join us for the afternoon --- Contact us via the website and we will make it happen!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two Poets Meet at the Skagit River Poetry Festival

James Crews, Poet
I love when the world makes sense. When dates and geographies collide so that two poets who previously had not known of the other's existence get a chance to meet in person at the Odd Fellows Hall in La Conner, WA.

So here's the story: a poet friend in London, Kelly Davio, sent me a FB post of my poem "Different Places to Pray" which had been published 8 years ago in the Times Literary Supplement (London). Alongside the poem, someone named James Crews had written an accompanying piece explicating the poem and excerpting an essay on travel that I wrote long ago...

I wondered who this James Crews character was ---- I assumed by the London publication and his name that Crews was English and London based. After all, Sara Crewe was a favorite book of mine when I was a child and it sounds almost the same.

Instead, James Crews turns out to be an outstanding American poet. Instead, the same week that the Times Literary Supplement republishes "Different Ways to Pray," I meet James at the Skagit River Poetry Festival and have the pleasure of hearing him read his work.

Sometimes the world works with a lyric lift, a serendipitous surrender.

God Particles
Related Poem Content Details


I could almost hear their soft collisions

on the cold air today, but when I came in,

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,

I felt them float toward me like spores

flung far from their source, having crossed

miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

just to keep my body fixed to its place

on the earth. Call them God if you must,

these messengers that bring hard evidence

of what I once was and where I have been—

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,

goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,

dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

So This Happened -- 8 Years Later!

More poems with profiteroles needed!

Several summers ago, my friend, poet Allen Braden, told me about a poetry contest that was organized by the Times Literary Supplement (London). He told me he thought I had a chance and so I sent in some poems. Amazingly, "Different Places to Pray" was declared a Finalist, and then eventually won First Prize. 

Winning this prize was a great honor and an odd one. The TLS poetry editor was dying at the time he chose my poem. After the contest, the annual competition ended. I cashed the check and the moment receded into the background.

Now eight years later, my poem is the Poem of the Week, at the Times Literary Supplement. Poet James Crews has written a cogent analysis of my work and the home page of TLS is a bowl of profiteroles. What more could a girl ask --- eight years after the fact?

Here's an excerpt of the article: 

“Different Places to Pray”, first published in the TLS in 2008, depicts a woman doing her best to locate a sense of the numinous within this world. She is prepared to “jettison everything” to find it; losing keys, socks, money and time in order to follow “the ghost of her heart”. Midway through the poem, however, she seems to accept that most of us, religious or not, must spend our days before the “clock stops”, “decoding messages” from and finding meaning mainly in those commonplace things that surround us. Although she confesses she would rather have “a compass / rose, a star chart”, some simpler set of directions or “text support messages” to follow, her final question suggests that most people, at some point, will                 to continue reading, click here

Here's the poem's first lines: 

Different Places to Pray

Everywhere, everywhere she wrote; something is falling –
a ring of keys slips out of her pocket into the ravine below;

nickels and dimes and to do lists; duck feathers from a gold pillow.
Everywhere someone is losing a favorite sock or a clock stops

circling the day; everywhere she goes she follows the ghost of her heart;
jettisons everything but the shepherd moon, the hopeless cause.

This is the way a life unfolds: decoding messages from profiteroles,
the weight of mature plums in autumn. She’d prefer a compass

rose, a star chart, text support messages delivered from the net,
even the local pet shop – as long as some god rolls away the gloss

to continue reading, click here

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Submit (Poems) and Arrange Manuscripts

Before National Poetry Month comes to a close for another 11 months, here is an article I wrote for Hedgebrook on sending your poems out into the world and how to order them too.  Thank you to Hedgebrook for the opportunity!

One poem, two poems, three poems, more~

I began sending my poems out to journals in an age before Submittable when a couple of postage stamps and an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) were the well-trodden pathways to an editor’s desk. I loved each ritual, each step of the process handled with care.

First I’d choose the watermarked paper, then the poems, and finally the best looking commemorative stamps. Everything had meaning; even the anonymity of the mailbox, even the lipstick kiss with which I’d seal the envelope, wishing it good luck on its journey. Several months later, when the return envelope arrived through my front door slot, I would hold it up to the light looking for evidence of the impending acceptance or rejection.

Mailing my poems into the world was an act of faith. I imagined a stranger, just finishing...Click here to continue reading...