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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed in Sundress

Review of This Visit by Susan Lewis
Buffalo: BlazeVOX Books, 2014. 104 pp. $16.00, paper.

I got some new reading glasses and I hate them. I don't just see with them; I concentrate a little too much on the act of seeing. There is no doubt I see better with the glasses, but they're fraught for me with notions of age and deterioration and beauty as a lessened priority. 

I broke them in on a very worthy read, though—the poetry collection The Visit, by Susan Lewis. This is her eighth book, and it shows, glasses or no, and I tried it both ways. My first time through, I used my laser glasses-focus and really scrutinized the work. The poems had complicated geographies. They circled back on themselves; some lines were spurs or fragments, and some were roundabouts, hard to steer out of. 

I think I preferred my second reading, the sans-glasses reading, when I softened my gaze and just went along where Lewis pointed. Lewis approaches her reader in an intuitive, collaborative way, and once I accepted my role as co-creator of the work, I found the experience vivid and energizing. Consider this snippet from the title poem of the book: 

On the wall with no writing
through the dark glass

(floor littered with doll heads)
the grenade of your despair

plus sleep, that sweet rehearsal
(fingertips in love)

wistful bones withering,
winding down—

Reading lines like these is somewhat like viewing a scene dimly while someone with keener vision or a more advantageous viewpoint offers a description. When I allowed myself, I felt it deep inside my flesh, those "fingertips in love" and the "wistful bones withering." This passage, by the way, is the end of the section, and yes, it trails off, and yes, it ends with a dash, interrupted. 

In reading the collection, it is helpful to remember its basic conceit: This Visit, the title, seems to refer to this visit to Earth—this incarnation, this life among many we will experience. The voice in the poems is wise; it seems to have been here before, to have racked up some special insight. The work here is intelligent. 

It is also intellectually demanding. For one thing, it is allusive, including quotes from The Waste Land and many other works, so that the reader is always on the lookout for another layer, for a lining. It is also discursive, with a mere hint of an argument running through out, with a thread showing here, and here. I guess I'm describing the book as a well-made jacket, supple and perfectly constructed, but it's also something more ethereal than that—like a jacket constructed of still-beating wings. 

Speaking of construction, the collection is structured very deliberately into four sections, the first of poems titled "My Life in..." ("...Dogs," "...Microbes," "...Fresh Starts"), and the second of epistolary poems ("Dear Tomorrow," "Dear Random Object," "Dear Crutch"). The third and fourth sections are more open, and I found the third section, containing the title poem, most accessible in terms of Lewis' project, and most rewarding to me as a reader. But I did admire the strategy here, especially that of beginning with a glimpse at all the different kinds of lives. 

A favorite in the first section is "Dear Dear," with a title signaling the sort of playfulness I came to expect in the collection. It's a poem, like many others here, that rewards out-loud reading, as in these final lines:

Lean, you'll

in the cool glower
of repair

at once ought
& naught—

(hurry up please,
it's time)

Lewis' wordplay is delectable and subtle. I enjoy the pairing of "lean and "lessen," the barest suggestion of rhyme in "glower" and "repair," and the T.S. Eliot reference at the end. There's a lot to chew on, and the worrisome, bespectacled me, taking my first read-through, almost missed the pleasure for the puzzle. 

At the end of the day, poems aren't puzzles, although some reward a picking apart and a deep consideration. Lewis's certainly do—but they also offer drive-by pleasures, a sonic lushness and the occasional thrill of recognition. I'm tempted to find a wholly new way of seeing—opera glasses? microscope? monocle?—and take on The Visit again. 

You can purchase The Visit here

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed in The Daily Art Source

Hurray and congrats to Susan Lewis​ Her fine book was reviewed in The Daily Art Source!! Hurray!!

This Visit

When I first opened this book I saw one line, it jumped out to me. It's from the poem, This Visit, "the grenade of your despair." Later in the poem Ms Lewis writes, "Impassive as viscera exhumed." This speaks volumes to the human condition, the way in which we suffer and the way we dwell in regret and shame. But this is my opinion you must understand, not the views of Ms Lewis.

Hardly ever do you pick up a book of poetry that quickly satisfies your curiosity the way that a book by Susan Lewis will. By writing in brief poetic surges its easy to take them and let each one soak in individually. These lines are very satisfying. Take for instance the poem, "Like Leaves." You will find these two lines,

in a dry wind

You might hear these words in a passing conversation, a story being told. But no, these words are in a very fine poem. Any way you dissect, read or take in the work from This Visit by Susan Lewis you're going to fine something for you and to share.

Chris Mansel

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

 Susan Lewis holds a lovely command of rhythm, sound, and the weird possibilities that enter our relationships and life events. Whether we are reading her prose poems, like “This is Not a Movie” or “Dig,” or we are admiring the line breaks and white space of her linear poems in This Visit, we are always thinking about our connection to the narrator and the imposed distance from everyone, and everything, else, reflecting that same isolation
Susan Lewis_This Visitwe may observe when moving through our own lives and being aware of our impact on others, and their impact on us. I found these poems to be wildly interesting and thought-provoking, and they have stayed with me for weeks since I closed these three books and left them on my desk until I could review them. Sometimes a writer will do something in their work that gets a tight hold on me, and Lewis’s ability to surprise me through the narrator’s reactions to average goings-on (the digging, the hunter’s gear) has such a tight hold on me, and I don’t want it to let go. These images are so vivid and, cliché or not, leap off of the page and challenge my perceptions. Whether you are struggling like I was to find time to read and enjoy, or if you are simply looking for the next book to buy for your shelves, get your shovels and travel gear ready, and look Susan Lewis up. I am so happy to say that I picked such an excellent writer to turn to for my first day back to reading and reviewing books, and I’m sure, with not the slightest sliver of doubt in my mind, that you’ll enjoy her work, too, and become haunted by it. 

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at Poets and Poems



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





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

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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Photos on flickr