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 UniveristyHospital, 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.

Friday, 7 March 2014


Fear is a strange thing. It can galvanise you into action, paralyse you – as the rabbit caught in headlights – or put you into denial so that you don’t even know that you are – afraid, that is.

Some years ago I wanted to explore the roots of the paralysis that can attack when action is needed, the kind that can lead to procrastination or a time of slowing down before important events, when speed would be a more helpful option. Brendan Kennelly had just published a book of poems exploring different emotions. I was about to commence a six months poetry course with Faber Academy, Dublin, under the tutelage of Paul Perry. It offered a space away from my usual poetry confreres, or maybe that should be ‘my consoeurs’! The anonymity of Dublin was to offer me a time to experiment further with poetry and push out the boundaries I’d reached in workshops with Kevin Higgins at the Galway Arts Centre. I wanted to see if I could swim in other waters.

 I’ll choose one emotion, I thought, fear could be good. Put it this way: next time I will be choosing joy! For I am not sure if the universe may offer up opportunities once we invoke a particular muse. I was presented with challenges that, for me, took me well into my chosen subject: fear of loss; of being ill; of dying; of being alone and of going mad. Nothing extreme then!

The core of all this is the fear of change. I’ve been exploring the question of change all my working life. Some people call psychotherapists ‘agents of change.’ Most of us want to reach a safe place where we need not fear any longer. We may then die of boredom but we don’t mostly have things remain static long enough to discover that. Stasis in biology comes close to being a definition of death, something that comes from stagnation. One quotation I came upon in my challenge to learn resilience said, ‘Give me a new challenge every day.’ ‘It was far from that I was raised,’ as they say, but I have come to see the value of it. The challenge to be creative is, literally, the gift of life. It was lucky, then, that I had poetry as a tool.

The poems are collected in Fear Knot, published by Doire Press, 2013. You can press on the Fear Knot cover  to the right of this blog to purchase a copy from Doire. I hope to talk about some of the poems in future blogs.

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