A transplanted Bostonian, Susan Rich is the winner of the PEN USA Poetry Award as well as the Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award for The Cartographer's Tongue: Poems of the World, (White Pine Press, 2000). Her book, Cures Include Travel came out from White Pine Press in September, 2006 and was "Highly Recommended" by Library Journal. The Alchemist's Kitchen is due out in Fall 2010.
She has worked as a staff person for Amnesty International, an electoral supervisor in Bosnia, and a human rights trainer in Gaza. Rich lived in the Republic of Niger, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, later moving to South Africa to teach at the University of Cape Town on a Fulbright Fellowship.
Rich's international awards include invitations from the USIS to work in Zimbabwe as a writer-in-residence, a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland, and a Ruben Rose Award from Israel. Other poetry honors include an Artist Trust Fellowship and GAP grant from Artist Trust, the Rella Lossy Award from the San Francisco State Poetry Center, the Sojourner Poetry Award chosen by June Jordan, the Glimmer Train Poetry Award and the William Stafford Award.
Her poems have appeared in journals both in the United States and internationally including the Christian Science Monitor, Harvard Magazine, Gettysburg Review, New England Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Poetry Review and Witness. Anthologized poems, essays, and interviews are included in Best Essays of the Northwest, Family Matters: Poems of Our Families, O Taste and See: Food Poems, Poem Revised: 54 Poems, South African Poets on Poetry 1992-2001, Literary Lunch, To Touch the World: the Peace Corps Experience, Voices From the Field: Peace Corps Worldwise Schools and Writing the Journey: Essays, Poems, Stories of Travel.
Educated at the University of Massachusetts, Harvard University, and the University of Oregon, Susan Rich lives in Seattle and teaches at Highline Community College. She is an active alum of Hedgebrook, on the advisory council of More Peace Corps and a dedicated board member at Whit Press.
Beyond Biographical Statements
Someday I’ll write a travel piece on the places I’ve slept or tried to sleep while on the road, but who will believe it? A hotel under gunfire in Croatia, a whorehouse in Mopti, one haunted Edinburgh flat. As much as these nights are emblazoned in my memory, they are not the reason I keep answering the allure of travel still whistling at my door.
Responding to this calling, opening this blue door, sends me somewhere more complex than these adventures imply. For me, the external journey of the traveler and the internal mapping of the poet are different sides of one central desire: the search for an extended worldview. Perhaps my poetry is a kind of distilled reflection of my travels, often written years after returning home. Almost a decade elapsed between when I completed my Peace Corps service and began the first poems of living in the Republic of Niger. I needed the passing of time to let go of the literal. I needed time in order to forget what I didn't know and to move into a more internal mapping of my experience.
The act of mapping seems right to me in terms of exploration: the poet’s and the adventurer’s. The process is ongoing; the constant questioning of which road or line break to turn on and which one to privilege or revise altogether. The daily accidents that bring the poet, the traveler, into unexplored territory may offer new experiences that knock us off balance, literally and figuratively so that we no longer know who we are or where we stand. The poet-traveler rearranges the geological terrain with her own nomadic coordinates. Who could ask for more?
Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Wright, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Alchemist's Kitchen
White Pine Press
Doctors Without Borders; Amnesty International, Oxfam America, Barack Obama , Whit Press
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