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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at Poets and Poems

 

POETS AND POEMS: SUSAN LEWIS

TSP Susan Lewis

Prose poetry isn’t as easy as it might look. I didn’t realize what tight control it can require until reading three recently published works by poet Susan Lewis, two of which are prose poetry and one of which is the more familiar verse style.

Lewis is an accomplished poet, having published numerous collections and chapbooks, including Animal HusbandryCommodity FetishismThe Following Message and At Times Your Linesamong others. Within the space of roughly a year, she published three books—two collections and a chapbook—and these are three I’ve recently read: How to Be AnotherState of the Union and This Visit. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and poetry publications.

The poetry in the three collections has a broad range of subjects—commercialism, food, environmental issues, language, relationships, to mention only a few—but each of the volumes reflects a similar voice, a voice utilizing an observant eye and an air of authority. Consider the title poem from How to Be Another:

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at BLOTTERATURE

 

BLOT LIT REVIEWS: HOW TO BE ANOTHER AND THIS VISIT BY SUSAN LEWIS

HowtobeAnother

 

This Visit

 

Review: How to be Another and This Visit by Susan Lewis
Červená Barva Press, Blaze VOX [books], 2014
Reviewed By Elizabeth Mobley

Susan Lewis’ full-length prose poetry collection, How to be Another and her full-length poetry collection, This Visit are highly abstract, punny, and rich in carefully planned out verbiage. Her soulful words seep into the mind to linger, resonate, and repeat resoundingly, always with a fresh understanding with every read.

In How to be Another, Lewis’ prose clenches in a visceral way, right from the beginning with

“Dig
is all you ever say, & I do, becoming even grimier & less enlightened” (3)

leaving an afterthought to ruminate upon:

“So far, I have unearthed no secret treasure; no new perspective; no offspring of any kind; not often the slightest touch of your hand still unsullied, impossibly smooth, irresistibly trembling hand” (3).

The overwhelmingly sarcastic tone makes these prose pieces though-provoking but easy to read again and again, like in “Say Something”:

Say the end is a beginning. Say this is a matter of life & death. Say America is just another bubble. Say a thing or two about milkweed or super-heroes, vibrations or delicious speculation. Say the proof is in the pudding. Say each moment has a life of its own. Say you never want to blink. Say you sweet-talked fear to burrow for this moment. Say you can imagine another scenario. Say you’ll pay attention. Say there’s help on the way. Say there isn’t. Say what you’d rather not. Say what you please. Just promise to listen. (21)

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Check out This Visit here 

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Susan Lewis interviewed in Grab The Lapels

 

Meet the Writer: Susan Lewis

I want to thank Susan Lewis for answering my questions. She is the author of several books, including This Visit and How to Be Another.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve always been a voracious reader. When I was seven years old, I read a collection of haiku by Basho. I was entranced, and became passionate about writing Japanese forms. I went on, as a child and adolescent, to write all kinds of poetry, as well as short stories and plays.

How have you developed creatively since then?

I still consider my writing identity a work in progress, and I suspect I always will! After high school, I didn’t write at all for a number of years. When I turned back to it, I wrote short fiction, which is what I worked on for my MFA. Later, I tried my hand at writing a novel. Only after that did I return to my first love, poetry. Over time my poetry has moved from more-or-less traditional free verse lyric to prose and lineated poems that are more fragmented and narratively unmoored. That said, I still write some prose poems that resemble surrealistic parables or fables.

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at Red Paint Hill

 

A Glimpse into our Alien World:  Susan Lewis and This Visit

 Susan Lewis
This Visit

BlazeVOX [books]
Buffalo, NY
© 2014
ISBN:  978-1-60964-169-6

 PURCHASE

Astonishment. Astonishment and an extensive exploration of language through the masterful use of rhyme and alliteration makes Susan Lewis’ eighth poetry collection This Visit both a tremendously enjoyable and challenging book to read. When her speakers demand, “Admit you would play dead. / Permit me to seed red // lest we strut and preen / & prophecy . . .” (15), the audience pays attention, if only for the beautiful arrangement. But there is much more to this volume than music and word play. The poet’s 857 couplets provide the reader with tantalizing clues as how we interact with each other and the surrounding world.

            The basic, in fact the only, unit of construction in This Visit is the couplet, appearing occasionally in variant forms. This fact raises significant questions for several reasons, not the least of which is what or whom do these constructs represent? Chromosomes? Noah’s menagerie? Lovers? Pilot/co-pilot? Mentor/protégé? Whatever the case, Lewis ensures the poems reflect two viewpoints:  incisive, cogent, sometimes contradictory, and always worth hearing.

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed by Lisa M. Cole

 

I see many parallels between Susan Lewis’s This Visit and State of the Union, another book by Lewis that I read a few weeks ago. There is plenty of sharp and clever word play and rhyme. I also see a lot of influence coming from the school of Language Poetry and its poets. There is a distinct commentary on language itself, as the first poem in the collection, “My Life In Dogs”, has “language languishing.” For this and other reasons, This Visit reminded me of Charles Alexander’s book Pushing Water, which I reviewed in March of last year. 
Many of the same themes are addressed in This Visit, as were addressed in State of the Union: there seemed to be a slight political bent, as well as a focus on the human condition, and even God and morality, in lines like, 
They too must age, decay
& slowly quieten. 
& can only live
more or less. & choose,
more or less. 
& search furtively or not
for the nonexistent exit. 
Later, “the grenade of your despair” is paired with doll heads littered on the floor, which is certainly an image that sticks with the reader.  










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