Author of three collections published by Doire Press, in 2016 - 2018 Susan's poems have appeared, among elsewhere, in: The Cafe Review, Oregan, USA - Gather In, in a Special Irish Edition; Bosom Pals,Ed Marie Cadden (Doire Press, 2017) an anthology entirely in aid of Breast Cancer Research in the National UniversityHospital, Galway and When They've Grown Another Me in Poetry Ireland Review, Dec 2018. January 2018 has seen her poems Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition.

She has been an invited reader of her poems at local readings in Galway, Cork and Dublin and at festivals, including the Belfast Book Festival, Cuirt International Festival of Literature and Clifden Arts Festival. Her poems have been read on radio.

Susan completed her degree in social science and qualified as a professional social worker in Trinity College, Dublin 1975. She was a psychotherapist, trainer, facilitator and occasional consultant to organisations for over thirty years until her retirement in 2012. Drawing together her writing with her earlier skills she has written interviews and facilitated conversations mediated by poetry. She continues to work on a manuscript relating the story of starting out in poetry and a mid-life move West along with occasional other creative non-fiction pieces.

Her workshop Having a New Conversation: About Dreaming was listed on the The Cuirt International Festival of Literature Programme (2015) and she facilitates similar workshops on a variety of themes, discussed through the medium of poetry, regularly and occasionally in local community settings.

While a founding editor of Skylight 47 Susan interviewed: then Ireland Professor of Poetry, Harry Clifton; Kay Ryan, former US Poet Laureate invited to Ireland by Dromineer Literature Festival and Dani Gill who talks about curating The Cuirt International Literature Festival. Her most recent interview, of Maeve O'Sullivan, appears in The Honest Ulsterman February, 2018.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Superstition and The Galway Advertiser: Seven Years on – in Galway Library

     It was a Hallow’een night in my daughter’s home in Sutton. For a moment I didn’t know where I was as I followed the camera up winding stairs to the top floor of a New York apartment block.

     As Tony Curtis launched my third book from Doire Press at Poetry Ireland headquarters in Dublin last week I thought of Samuel Menashe, who lived at the top of those stairs. Curtis spoke of his liking for superstition and went on to explore the linkages that his research and the pop-ups in his memory had evoked as he read the poems in Milling the Air.

     Seven years ago my Hallow’een poem, Francis Bacon and Samuel Menashe by Strange Coincidence, was mentioned in a review in The Galway Advertiser. Nothing To Lose In Getting Dressed , a review of my first book of poetry  Whispering the Secrets, was written by Kevin Higgins. Subsequent events confirmed that local newspapers and radio can have powerful reach.

     In 2011 the American poet Samuel Menashe was living what were to be his final months in a nursing home in New York. His friend, the author and critic, Nicholas Birns saw the review on-line and sought a copy of my book to give him. The photo of Menashe reading my book, his encouraging words relayed to me by Birns and the sad news received, one early morning in August, that Samuel Menashe had passed away during the night having ‘truly enjoyed’ my poems and had had my book by his bedside in his final weeks and days remain with me when I write.

     We all need encouragement and I love the poems of Menashe – a winner of the 2004 Most Neglected Master Award from the US Poetry Foundation. It was watching Menashe reading those poems on the DVD film Life is IMMENSE by Pamela Robertson-Pearce that, alongside a visit to the Francis Bacon Studio in the Hugh Lane Gallery - around the corner from Poetry Ireland - had led to the poem. The film accompanies his New and Selected Poems Edited by Christopher Ricks (Bloodaxe Books, 2009). Nicholas Birns later wrote a further review of my first book Whispering the Secrets – something that is hard to get for a first, or any, collections coming from a small poetry press. I’m still grateful for it and to Kevin Higgins and The Galway Advertiser for that first review allowing significant connections to be made.

     Strangely, I discovered a further coincidence while interviewing the US Poet Laureate, poet Kay Ryan, for Skylight 47 – that has just launched its Galway 2020 project. She and Menashe were friends. He had discovered the first poem of hers published in an issue of a prestigious New York newspaper that was left on a park bench in Central Park where he liked to walk. He rang her to tell her how  much he liked it and invited her to visit him should she visit the city in future. It was several years later, she told me, before she could visit but they kept in touch thereafter. ‘Superstition’, or synchronicity – as the psychologist Carl Jung might call it – ‘strange coincidence[s]’ abound.

     I’ll be reading alongside poets Louis Mulcahy & Maurice Devitt at Galway City Library on Tuesday 30th Octber, at 18.00 (N.B. 6pm). Before that, we'll be reading in Cork City Library 6.30 Tues 23rd Oct and Dublin's Pearse Street library at 6.30pm on Thurs 25th Oct. More on posts below & Come Along!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Doire Press poets on tour: A Crack in Everything/the Irish Times...

It's not everyday the Baldoyle Race Course gets commemorated in the opening lines of poem! A poem that goes on to explore changing landscapes. Thank-you to Ruth McKee wrote the article published in The Irish Times today and to be found at the link below.

I've only begun to allow myself acknowledge my shocked sense of loss when the UK voted for Brexit. A lifetime of divisions finally healing, now cracking... The ruptured landscapes of a divided island, divided family and divided history known personally and collectively. It's quite an amazing moment to be reading in Belfast Central library tomorrow at 3pm - as they celebrate 130 years of making books available and we verge on the edge of we know not quite what politically... I look forward to having an opportunity to voice what these cracks and memories have meant to me in poems such as When the Bombs Went Off.../ in Paris, New York, Gaza, Yemen.... (I wrote 'the poems went off' in error here first!) 'I thought of Belfast...'. Gather In: the oak tree of the poem; Derry, Doire, Doire Press who organised the visit; Ballinderreen where I wrote so many of the poems - town of the little oak, Requiem 2014,  and to hear for the first time my fellow poets - Maurice Devitt and Louis Mulcahy - read from their new books.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

On the Page or Spoken – the Essence of Poetic Identity

Issue 123
I wasn’t thinking about my own poem about identity when I interviewed Maeve O’Sullivan for the current (Feb,2018) issue of The Honest Ulsterman.  It did help to ensure that I read the December issue #123 of Poetry Ireland Review, 2017, earlier than I probably would have if I didn’t have a poem published in it that thereby led to an early copy landing on my doormat. This ensured I read Eavan Boland’s Preface giving me a context within which to ask particular questions.

Inspired by a hissie-fit reaction to the arrival of my social identity card, needed as a bus pass, my poem When They Grow Another Me ‘on a petri...’ raises the question, among others, about what will happen if they lose ‘me’? The questions now appear to have a parallel in questions being asked about poetry and its authors in a spat, or spout raised in an essay in PN Review. Thankfully poetry can’t be grown from DNA and we can’t either clone or own its essence but that doesn’t mean there won’t be those who will continue to try.

 The Blue Nib online literary journal issue launched 20th February, 2018 has an article by Jane Simmons examining the split in the poetry world because, she reports, of a searing essay by Rebecca Watts published in PN Review titled The Cult of the Noble Amateur (see )  in which she takes issue with award winning work of poets such as Holly McNish, Kate Tempest and Rupi Kaur. Apparently successful because ‘artless poetry sells’. Both Tempest and McNish have won The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, the latter for a work of poetic memoir. ‘From the Judges: Poetry and prose mix well creating an internal rhythm that is conversational and honest'
PN Review 239

The critique is apparently as much because these performance poets received acknowledgement by the UK establishment as it is about the work itself. McNish’s response is mentioned also. Simmons invites us to consider our own views.

In the Preface to the December issue of Poetry Ireland Review Eavan Boland explores the space between the more private space of the page poem and the public language of performance. These and other interweaving languages become the context in which she introduces the work of Stephen Sexton whose poetry is high-lighted in this Dec issue of PIR and informed the questions I posed to Maeve O’Sullivan as I interviewed her The Honest Ulsterman (Feb, 2018). O’Sullivan is known for her Haiku and Haibun – many of which appear in Elsewhere (Alba, 2017), launched by Paula Meehan in Dublin in the late autumn. She is a member of the British Haiku Society, was a founding member of the Irish Haiku Society and is also well-known for being a member of The Poetry Divas known for their spoken word performances – with the slogan’blurring the wobbly boundaries between page and stage’. Who better to ask about her experience of straddling what could be seen as the extremes of these genres? The interview can be accessed here haibun 

The dispute about terrain may be more interesting because of the questions it raises that go to the heart of what makes a poem poetry - who makes that decision and who owns the rights to a particular language and its identifiers - than because of anything else: questions that ultimately become questions about identity.

How and in what way is a poem identified as significant?

Significant to whom? Is a poem’s identity decided by the words ‘assembled’, the author, its title, its place in what has gone before - and the milieu surrounding it? Do poems belong to us at all? After all a proportion of poems are acknowledged by their named authors to have arrived almost fully formed.

U Tube videos, self-promotion on social media and the established cannon or not, may quickly become redundant signifiers

in the issuing of passports to amateur/professional/apprentice would be poets with the further development of digital block-chain identities – already used by some musicians to establish their right to ownership of their work. How important will the critics be when the direct listener/reader to author route further becomes the norm and established mediators are by-passed? I imagine they will continue to have their place. It’s a very particular world. But the territory is changing shape and it can be hard to maintain footing and tenure not knowing how things will be in any future within sight.

In essence...

Come to think of it, even were some imagined ‘they’ to grow another ‘me’ not chained-in-block and registered on a web address linked to an office in Estonia, or wherever else also provides such opportunity, they couldn’t have my essence. Or could they?

Friday, 8 September 2017

BOSOM PALS Editor Marie Cadden Launch by Moya Cannon Thurs 14th 5pm UHG

Add captio
of this very special project
from which all proceeds go to
Breast Cancer Research in Galway.
More on radio podcast right.

Marie Cadden is the author of Gynaecologist in the Jacuzzi from Salmon Poetry and co-editor of the poetry paper Skylight 47.
While 'living with cancer', she has put together an inspiring and exciting of collection of poems from fellow scribblers who have also written about their own experiences in relation to the disease.

Moya Cannon, poet member of Aosdana, born in Donegal, lived for years in Galway and now in Dublin, will launch this publication.

Gynacologist in the Jacuzzi  see more at
Moya Cannon see
Skylight 47  Issue 9 to be  launched November, 2017.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Business is Poetry and Poetry My Business. I'm taking to air... Fri Ist Sept on Dublin City FM 103.2.

with Don Harris 

of Talkback Ireland

12.30pm    Dublin CityFM 103.2

Friday morning,  1st Sept 2017 

 Talk to you there...


Photo:  Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale, Galway 2015