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, 15 May 2015

Fat is Not Immoral and Those Who Claim the High Moral Ground Are in Danger of Bullying.

I wish I could be as smart as Derek Davis was.

Fat is no longer ‘a feminist issue’ alone. It’s a health and fashion issue - for all. It always was. Face facts: fat is most associated with having a low income, although genetic make-up and many other factors play their part; once it has been put on, the body has an in-built tendency to return to its former highest weight. This is why many who diet fail to sustain their weight loss and why attacking those who have weight on is inappropriate and counter-productive. To demonise those putting on weight, or their parents, is to bully those often already suffering.

You may have a lean mean physique. You may work hard to keep it that way, sweating the calories off in the gym or on the road. Well done.  I celebrate your success, health and wellbeing. If you also need to hit out at the less fortunate then I question your motivation. You want to add moral high ground to your accolades? Is your self –worth so low? Is it built on body image? You are then about as unwell as the rest of us.

All the indications are that we live in a society with an eating disorder. Magazines sell best, now that Princess Diana is gone, when they have something about weight, fat or food on the cover. We have anti-weight campaigns and more cooking food programmes promoting sugar and fat ingredients than ever before. See-saw weight gain-loss and an obsession with food are clear indications of addiction. We photo-shop images that no-one can live up to because they are not real and then we make them an ideal to fail to live up to. It makes sense to be obsessed with food when it is genuinely in short supply other than that, we have to ask: what else is going on.

The short answer is that an industry is going on, an industry with as many charlatans as academic experts. The second answer is that industry as a whole needs more output from fewer workers to keep the economy going. 

Last Sunday,10th May, 2015, the retired broadcaster Derek Davis contributed to a conversation on the Marian Finucane Show about Obesity Policy, This week we are mourning his death. The panel agreed the focus needs to be on prevention, starting with children. Children need to be allowed to play. They need to be given space to run around and allowed out to safe-enough spaces we need to ensure are created. We do need to exercise. We also need to get out more. We need to address our false fears of the world out there. Having been a pscychotherapist for many years I want to say that many of those are generated by fear in here – internal fear generated by the false myths we need to stop promulgating. We also need to face the fact that life is uncertain: we can contribute to outcomes but we can’t control them. Counteracting obesity begins best with breast-feeding which brings us back to the question of work lifestyle balance and the need for companies to be more conscious that mothers need to breastfeed and that companies need women if they are to succeed best so action is needed here too.

I never thought I’d write on this issue. I didn’t want to join the obsession. It is a tragedy that in the last week of Derek Davis’ life he had to say, ‘I am sitting here getting angry…’ as he listened to Sinead Ryan, introduced as the Consumer and Property Analyst from The Irish Independent, who had castigated the parents of overweight children. Davis talked about what is known as Fat Guilt and how G.Ps. and others are ‘not up to speed on obesity.’ It is ‘profoundly anger inducing …only feeds the so-called fat industry’ including its' charlatans’. 

We owe it to the memory of a generous man to deal with our communal addiction: face our fear and address best eating and exercise habits in a way that is both fair and respectful. I wish I could be as smart as Derek Davis was. I loved hearing a replay of him talking about books to George Hook this week. I wanted more.   Sunday 10th May. Click on Obesity Policy click on ‘Remembering Derek Davis’

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