Monday, September 30, 2013

Susanna Childress

Susanna Childress lives in Michigan, where she is on the faculty of Hope College. She is the author of two books: Jagged With Love (Wisconsin) which won the Britttingham Prize, and Entering the House of Awe (New Issues Press) which won the prize in poetry from the Society of Midland Authors.

Billy Collins praised her first book by saying, "Susanna Childress writes at the cutting edge of the long tradition of love poetry. Her poems often involve tense negotiations between a sharp cultural intelligence and a body that craves fulfillment..." Her poems dwell, often without rational connections, in the spaces where emotion is what really makes sense. They deal with yearning, pain, anxiety and joy, in a way that doesn't try to explain what can only be experienced."

Over the past seven years, Susanna's husband, Joshua Banner, has been setting some of her poems to music. The result is The Necessary Dark. The CD will be released in November, 2013, although videos can now be seen on her web site.

The following poem is from Entering the House of Awe.

From The Hyssop Tub------VI

Mary---Mary Countess---of Pembroke sister of the Queen's fallen
proffered this translation---this paraphrase---lines that perhaps
as you had---Laura---speak through---------Petrarch------you give this
something---of her own------(the male Black-Throated Green Warbler
has been known to sing---466 songs---in one hour---to call a mate) for
it is not---let the bones you have crushed---rejoice but---that bruised
dance away---their sadness
---It is after all---to lepers God has been
assigned------------their purging---part cedar wood---part crimson
of doves---------------hyssop------------Rabbinic commentary offers You
---------were proud
like the cedar and the Holy One---Blessed be He---humbled you
like---------this hyssop that---is crushed---by everyone
------At the
I lifted------------a sponge of vinegared wine on a branch of
who's up for being ground---like mint or white sage------What's---the
you take---------to give------------only and not---only------then---we

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: