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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.

Read the whole interview here

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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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INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN LEWIS INTERVIEW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING

 
INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN LEWIS
INTERVIEW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING


Kristina Marie Darling: Your newest collection, This Visit, was recently released byBlazeVOX Books. What would you like readers to know before they dive in?


Susan Lewis: This Visit is a four-part investigation in couplets into subjectivity, ephemerality, and above all mortality (as the title suggests). The sections are intended to bounce off of, as well asecho, one another. The first offers a series of poems titled “My Life in . . .” (Dogs, Sheets, etc.) which play with plasticity and porosity of identity/identification. Section two contains another series of what I think of as abstract epistolary poems (Dear Tomorrow, Dear Subjectivity, etc.). The poems in the third section are the most lyric of the lot, written in orderly, left-aligned couplets. The fourth offers meditative experimentswhose leaps and non-linear connections are evoked by the space (and breath) incorporated into their more open and irregulartextures.


KMD: I admire the ways your poems use sound to forge connections between ideas and images within the text. In many ways, you make the reader question their fixation on the semantic meaning of words, and ask them to hear instead the music inherent in everyday speech. What does sound make possible for you within a poem, and within a narrative?


SL: You are quite right about my interest in challenging readers’ expectation of transparency from verbal artifacts – a function, no doubt, of language’s ubiquity and utility. Forefronting the sound of words – in conjunction and counterpoint with their meaning – is one way to bring them to the reader’s attention as the aesthetic material of this art form. The music of language is also a way to awaken the reader’s attention to unexpected, hopefully resonant connections. The dance between sensual effects and “meaning”can generate a lot of energy.


KMD: Your new collection, This Visit, is formally distinct from your previous books, State of the Union and How To Be Another. You've shifted gracefully from prose forms to lineated verse. What unique opportunities does lineated verse offer for the writer?


SL: Well, I still love the prose poem – with regard to the line, I am definitely polyamorous! Where I see the prose poem as solid, compressed, and powerful, like an atom to be split, or a fist– I view lineated verse (in the writing as well as the reading) as lithe, sinuous, and (potentially) lacy, like a tendril or a fingertip. One opportunity lineation offers is the integration of breath/white space (depending upon whether one is considering the aural or the visual experience of the poem) into the fabric of the poem. Just as the absence of breath/white space gives prose poems a certain power and concentration, its presence in lineated poems offers an extra material to work with. To the extent space and breath invite the reader to stand back, contemplate, and muse, lineation can be conducive to a lighter, more suggestive touch. Even in more blocky presentations, lineated verse declares to the reader, in no uncertain terms, that this is a poem! – a piece of art rather than ‘simply’communication. Not to mention lineation’s visual dimension – whether it involves periodicity or unpredictability, stability or disruption. And then there’s the vast plasticity of the line (and break)! (Hence the inherent defiance of the prose poem, whose prose blocs seduce the reader to “relax” into reading, only todemand that they interact with the work on poetic terms).

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed in Poet's Quarterly

  

Review: The Visit by Susan Lewis


Mary Kasimor
This Visit
Susan Lewis
BlazeVOX
Paperback, 104 pages
978-1-60964-169-6
http://www.blazevox.org/index.php/Shop/new-releases/this-visit-by-susan-lewis-384/

In Susan Lewis’ latest collection of poetry, This Visit, she informs the reader of the paradox of being alive in the poem, “Severence:” “the world too beautiful/despite these flaked years.” She repeats this throughout the book, reiterating her passion for existence through metaphors and sleight-of-hand magical language. Lewis creates a landscape of language that shifts meaning and then doubles back to remind the reader of what her main intent is in this collection. I believe that a poet writes from a sense of urgency; that is, a poet looks for the source of life and the meaning of life by writing poetry, and Lewis is accomplishing that in this book. She writes these poems as means to explain and explore the complexities and the fragility of human existence. She explains the inevitable in the poem, “My Life in Microbes:”


But (you say)
      some of my best friends are—

to which I nod:
      decay


It is a simple response to read and enjoy This Visit as a book that is filled with word play, puns, and intellectual maneuvers. However, there is much more to this collection of poetry than one finds in the first reading. Lewis gives the reader a sense of urgency in her poems, even as they come across as being delightfully clever. There is a seriousness written between the lines of these poems, and Lewis is very serious in her intentions in This Visit.


Lewis’ title, This Visit, suggests that someone is going to or has gone “to see” another place on this earth or in someone’s psyche. It can be agreed that we are merely “visiting” the earth and that our visits are temporary and may be occasional. As humans, we try to hang onto life as we know it and as we see and experience it with as much surety as possible. But regardless of our urge and desire to stay, it is only temporary. We try to convince ourselves that we will continue to live forever, and we posture and present ourselves in that way. Lewis tells us this in the poem, “My Life in Sheets:” “strapped & / balanced/ in their come-hither / wrappers, misconstrued & /moribund, mould’ring in / chat chat chat…” As humans, we are firmly entrenched in the idea of always being here, on this earth, but as humans, we also have memory, and we realize that is not how existence continues. It discontinues and is tenuous and fleeting, and it is not at all secure and eternal.

Read the whole review here 

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