The New Year, A Reading

Dear Friends,

A new sun moves north as the days slowly lengthen toward spring. In Southern California in the Simi Hills, for a week before and a week after the solstice, at dawn a finger of light enters the notched entrance and passes along the length of the ancient pecked and painted sandstone cave. As it moves, it vivifies the images and all they portend.

May the new light also move through each of us, awakening our courage and concern of all beings.


Please join me for my first reading in the new year hosted by the venerable Harry Northup.

Harry’s Announcement: Please join us to see/hear two brilliant poets, Susan Suntree & Tom Laichas, read their poetry on Harry’s Poetry Hour, Creative Chaos MPTF, on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, 1-2 PM PST. Thanks to Jennifer Clymer, Director, MPTF Studios, & the Creative Chaos Team.

Here is the Zoom link. Please check in a few minutes before 1 PM.… Passcode: MPTF  Please share.

Here’s the discount link to the Sacred Sites audiobook where you can learn about the Simi Hills sacred sites:


A Three-part Series

Free and open to the public! In addition to my talk and Raven’s observations, I will show slides of places in Southern California that are rarely seen and even more rarely recognized for what they are. Learn the story! See deeply into this amazing homeland!


indigenous peoples and native realities

ANNOUNCEMENT from Duane Bidwell

Can’t wait to attend this Monday night–Susan Suntree is a treasure.

Join Raven and Coyote as they guide us on a tour through the primordial origins of Southern California, beginning with the Big Bang/Great Silence to the present.

It’s the first gathering of a three-part series, “Indigenous Peoples and Native Realities.” Join us for a meal in Fellowship Hall at 6p, followed by the performance at 7p in the sanctuary.

Susan’s presentation, drawn from her book “Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California,” is equal parts Western scientific thought and Native American myths and songs, telling a dynamic and poetic story about the Southern California landscape. Included in the presentation is a full-color slide show of images taken by renowned photographer Juergen Nogai.

Upcoming Reading and Wonderful News!

Dear Friends, On Sunday, October 16, 2022, at 2 PM I’ll be reading from my recent book harvest at the Seven Stars Gallery, 210 Spring Street, Nevada City.  Please join us! Refreshments! Signed books!

Susan Suntree reads from her latest works

Good company brings literature to life!

I will accompany my reading of Dear Traveler on the dulcimer, joined by Tynowyn, Nevada County’s celebrated flute and dulcimer player.  And I will play an excerpt from the audiobook of the new, revised paperback edition of, Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, as well as read excepts about the ancient era when CO2 was at the level it is now. Though the past does not necessarily predict the future, it helps us understand the Earth’s ways of responding to dramatic changes. If time permits, I may read a few new poems apropos of this critical moment.

I’d love to share this celebration with you! Join us!


PS Your reviews really do help! If you shop on line, I recommend


Recently I was honored by being inducted into the Antelope Valley High School Hall of Fame. Our high desert high school, serving a community of only fifty thousand people at that time, has saluted such alumni artists as Frank Zappa and US Poet Laureate Kay (Pederson) Ryan. I am especially pleased to join my cohort of honorees who have made rich contributions to music (including a founder of Captain Beefheart and His Magic band), journalism, teaching, and coaching. I posted on my website (go to Posts) my short speech and a poem describing how I came to be a student there and how the school and my childhood in the desert became significant roots, nourishing my life path and work.


AVHS HALL OF FAME      MY TALK      September 22, 2022

Thank you for this honor! Your praise and appreciation is deeply moving.

            My grandparents moved to the Antelope Valley when I was six and they soon bought us grandkids a horse that became our transport into the then wild desert. Gramp installed the glass in the new schools and housing for Boeing and Edwards Air Force Base workers. The flood of these new residents generated a real estate boom. When my family returned to California from our stint in the Bahamas, I was thrilled by the prospect of attending a real high school.

            I arrived at Antelope Valley High School as a junior, followed later by my brother Ted and sister Peggy. I’d spent my freshman and sophomore years, along with my older sister, Ginger, at a very strict girls’ boarding school where there were no televisions, radios, or record players. Our mail, in and out, was read and censored, though somehow a few letters from friends in Arcadia, where I attended middle school, arrived with news about high school life: surfing, the Beach Boys, sports, boys, dances! And, oh yes, so many classes! Wow!

            The first day of the fall semester at AV, I was terrified: There would be boys everywhere and such a complex world, one I had longed for but that suddenly looked overwhelming. Quickly, however, it became my teenage paradise, a feast of opportunities. There was a theater program, a speech team that went to tournaments, student government, a newspaper, clubs and classes of all sorts. There was sports for girls as well as boys, and modern dance, and so much more. I loved it even as I suffered my teenage miseries. And there were my excellent teachers, especially Mr. Guzman, my English teacher, who was a foundational influence in my life.

            My two years at AV, junior and senior, shaped my life in ways that have become more and more clear to me over the decades. In fact, my first one-woman performance, “Origins of Praise,” was based on my experiences in the Antelope Valley desert.

I’d like to share with you the poems I wrote and presented at my class reunions which starts with the year of my graduation. I think it describes the world I experienced and that deeply shaped who I am and how I have lived:  

For Antelope Valley High School’s Class of 1964


High desert children

                        migrants to Lockheed payroll

                                    to Edwards Air Force Base

            to test pilot’s BOOM banging into windows

                        to Yes it’s gonna BOOM next year

                                    real estate jumping up and down

                                                            with a speculator’s wink

Oh beautiful for spacious skies

                                                wide ocean skies

            wind blown into waves across the Great Basin

                        the ancient dust stirred

                                     from dry lakes’ once blue green shores

Joshua forests made farmland

                                                alfalfa, hogs, cattle, horses, and wheat

Wildness around the edges

                                    coyote’s cry heard in the housing tracts

Kids working on their algebra look up

                        smell dust in the wind

                                    worry about their hairdos

Dardenelles, LaDonnas, Debonairs

            Spartans Barons Lettermen

                        our tribal collection

                                    practicing everyday

                                                who we thought we wanted to be

            each the most lonely

                                    most likely to say the wrong thing

Cruising the Drive In, A&W, Denny’s, cafeteria odors

                                                drift from sandwiches all day in paper bags

                        trays rattling with the jukebox beats

  Angel Baby my Angel Baby   He’s a rebel and he never does what he should 

  Do you wanta dance and hold me tight?

Our dreams

            spread out so wide

                                    the moon is no limit

Burst from our simple desert socks

                        Right on! Sisters and Brothers

                                                into George Orwell’s arms

We, so finely shaped

                        and sent to the streets to change.

20th Reunion–1984

“I had a good time at my 10th when I went with my wife.

Going single to my 20th was different….”

20 years making lives

To explain atom bombs to step-children

                        our short hair

                                    coifed to fit an uneasy era.

How do we look?

How do we feel?

Deaths, broken homes,

                                    sagging or sharp successes

                                                new loves, knowing our work well

Those of us who are happy with small things

            happy with layers and layers of things

                        never happy

Alma Mater, nourishing mother, the reliable desert wind

                         reveals our bond:

                                                it is not this year

                                                            these memories

                                                                        this paraphernalia of the past

Our bond: death and the dreams

                                                we measure against our youth

Dancing at the Antelope Valley Inn

                                    awakening the dreamers

                                                                         for another 20 years.

50th Reunion–2014

“All paths are the same: they lead nowhere…I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.”  Carlos Castaneda

Since we met, thirty years

            to get it right

            or wrong, to fit our lives to

            old dreams new dreams no dream


                 dawn to dusk

the wind still blows,

                        dust clutters the windowsills

ravens turn across the sea blue sky.

Our memories toss their burdens, bright

                                    or fraught, into the present

We fray and bag in familiar places

                        old Levi’s fade, stitches loose at the seams

Yet we are sturdy in spirit

                        children unto grandchildren

                                    careers unto beguiling vistas or debt and worry.

There are no recliners for our lot

            the fuse of history lighted under our hearts

            sent us flying into our lives

            with rockets to the moon, space shuttle to the space station,

            classes to teach, newspapers to edit, pipes to fit, gardens to tend.

            Vapor trails of Endeavortomark our passage

            through wars, assassinations, climate threats, cycling boom and bust

Wherever we go, our inevitable interior landscape:

                                                                        desert simple vistas.

If all paths lead nowhere,

                                        here we are

Our bond: death and the dreams we measure

                        against the spaciousness of our hearts

We 60s dreamers

            this year more dining than dancing

                                    at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

Susan Suntree

Beyond Baroque

Dear Friends, Celebrating the publication of Dear Traveler and the new paperback and audiobook editions of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California at Beyond Baroque was great fun!

In addition to playing a selection of “Origins of the Universe” from the Sacred Sites audiobook, I read from the section about the Pliocene, the era when carbon dioxide measured 400 ppm, as it does today–a thought provoking comparison. When I turned to Dear Traveler, I accompanied myself with the dulcimer for the first time! Next: the harmonica!

What a pleasure to celebrate at the renovated Beyond Baroque theater and garden patio with a wonderfully responsive audience, and to share the evening with Tom Laichas, who presented his deeply moving book, Sixty-three Photographs at the End of a War, showed slides of the book’s photographs, and sang a few new poems.

Here is the link the book party recording:

Note: Unfortunately Zoom did not pick up the music in the audiobook selection. Click on the speaker and listen to the reading with the music!

The music composed by Tom Zehnder with contributions by the venerable flutist and Serrano Elder, Ernest Siva, was central to the Sacred Sites audiobook being selected as a 2021 finalist in Sound Production by the Society for Voice Arts and Sciences.

Here’s our discount link to the audiobook:

I hope you enjoy the party! I’ll keep you posted about readings scheduled for the fall season.

With mid-summer heat!


June and July events

Dear Friends,

I’m happy to announce the following events celebrating the release of Dear Traveler and the multiple award-winning audio and paperback revised edition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California. I’ll also be reading new work including chants from “The Undertakers.”     Please join us!

Sunday June 12, 2:00-4:00 pm — Avenue 50 Gallery, 151 North Avenue 50, Highland Park 90042. I’ll be reading with Briana Muñoz, Tom Laichas, and A. K. Toney. The flier is attached.

Looking ahead: Tom Laichas and I are having our long-delayed publication party! Drinks and treats! I will be playing my dulcimer!

Friday July 15, 8:00-9:00 pm — Beyond Baroque, 681 North Venice Blvd., Venice 90291 

Tickets will be available in a few weeks. 

I look forward to seeing you!


The Intelligent Beast: A Literary Journal & Reading Series  

Avenue 50 Gallery  131 No. Ave. 50, Highland Park, CA. 90042 (Free parking)

June 12, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00    Featured Poets:


Tom Laichas’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rupture, Disquieting Muses, Stand, Ambit, Moon & Sun and elsewhere. He is a winner of the Nancy Hargrove Poetry Prize from the Jabberwock Review and the author of Three Hundred Streets of Venice California (forthcoming from FutureCycle Press, 2023), Sixty-Three Photographs from the End of a War (3.1 Press, 2021), and Empire of Eden (The High Window Press, 2019).

Briana Muñoz is a writer from Southern California. Raised in San Diego, she spent a lot of her time at her mother’s Mexican folklore dance classes and at ranches where her father trained horses into the sunset. She is the author of Loose Lips (Prickly Pear Publishing 2019) and Everything is Returned to the Soil/Todo vuelve a la tierra (FlowerSong Press, 2021). Her work has been published in Dryland, the Bravura Literary Journal, LA BLOGA, and in the Oakland Arts Review, among others.

Susan Suntree is a poet and performer whose work investigates the dynamics of science, art, and spiritual philosophies as they engage contemporary life. She has presented her award-winning poetry and performances nationally and internationally, and has published books of poetry, biography, and creative nonfiction, as well as translations, essays, reviews, and book chapters. Awards include the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Nonfiction, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Poetic Narrative, and a Mellon Foundation Elemental Arts Award, and the audiobook of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California was a finalist for a Society of Voice Arts and Sciences prize.

A. K. Toney is a poet, writer, educator, and performance artist. As a World Stage Performance Gallery alumnus, he had the honor to be mentored by jazz great, community leader and founder of the World Stage Billy Higgins. Toney’s skills as a performance artist have taken him across the nation and abroad. His experience as a performance artist and educator has allowed him and his organization, Reading Is Poetry, to teach workshops with LA Unified schools, NAMI, and the Natural History Museum. Toney is also a contributing writer to KCET.

From AudioFile Magazine:

“…don’t miss listening to this astoundingly creative exploration of the history of place… Gary Snyder’s introduction, read enthusiastically by Peter Coyote…The emotional nuances of Suntree and Queypo’s delivery will make your ears dance.”   or wherever audiobooks are offered including many libraries.

Poetry Reading and signing April 16, 2022

Book signing

Dear Friends,

On 16 April 2022, I’ll be reading from Dear Traveler and the updated edition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California with the award-winning poet, Tom Laichas.

WHERE: The Book Jewel Bookshop, 6259 W. 87th St., Westchester CA 90045

WHEN: Saturday, April 16, 6PM

The bookstore will have books ready for signing and enjoying! There is ample easy parking. What a joy to read in person!

The poems in my new collection address a traveler navigating our ordinary world, now grown precarious. Dear Traveler wends its way through the cycles of a year and of a life-time from garden figs and squirrels to freeways, fires, war, and more. Perhaps you, too, are on the traveler’s path?

I’d love it if you could be there!


Praise for Dear Traveler

Susan Suntree powerfully adds her work to the travel poem traditions of her Classical Japanese predecessors, Saigyō and Basho. Dear Traveler is a Postmodern travel diary taking us on a journey through “a fevered civilization.” These poems shine with moments of quiet astonishment as they guide us into the interior of the self during these turbulent times. Her poems remind us “Your wild life is listening.”—Alan Soldofsky, author of In the Buddha Factory andDirector of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, San Jose State University

Dear Traveler is a gorgeous poem-cycle as well as a journey we all must make. —Marsha de la O, author of Every Ravening Thing

This book is a series of poems addressed to Traveler. Immediately one wonders, who is this Traveler? which is a mystery throughout Susan Suntree’s brilliant book, a lyrical tracking of dancing mind in the “oracular present.”  “Time is opening its map” Susan tells us at the beginning of the book.

By addressing the Traveler, Suntree reveals our everyday experiences as the mystical inner journeys that they really are. The poems take us through the daily life of figs and squirrels, take us on journeys through the seasons, through fire, all the way through death and disintegration, letting the body go and then, desiring a return, to its reforming, “awakening love’s beloved body.” These are everyday journeys, celestial journeys:

journey of soul, journey of body, journey of mind

Who is the Traveler?

It is us — revealed in these dazzling, dancing poems. —Phoebe MacAdams, author of The Large Economy of the Beautiful

There is a silence at the heart of all things. It is part of the miracle of this world in all its wondrous detail and sometimes frightening potential as each of us travels the landscape of what the zen tradition refers to as the great matter of birth-and-death. The poems in Susan Suntree’s Dear Traveler are true and gifted companions of this journey; they emerge from the poet’s years of deep listening as she made her way on this traceless path, and leave their echo in the reader’s heart. But there is something more here for you to discover; in some mysterious way, Suntree’s poetry itself listens. It listens without ears, and speaks without a mouth. —Peter Levitt, author of One Hundred Butterflies, Within Within, translator (with Kazuaki Tanahashi) The Complete Cold Mountain: Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan

These finely crafted poems map onto the Pacific Coast a quest for balance and self-possession. “This road is a welcome,” writes Suntree, and that’s a fact: whether humorous or bleakly prophetic, they draw us in with considerable clarity and force.  These poems remind us that though the journey’s stakes are high and the risks great, every step takes us closer to “awakening love’s beloved body.” —Tom Laichas, author of Empire of Eden, XXXX, and 2022 winner of the Jabberwocky Press Poetry Award

Like the music of the tall grass and dry sticks that Susan Suntree writes about, these poems sing.  Her writing here is spare, her economy of language admirable; there’s not an extraneous word or piece of punctuation anywhere.  Each tiny poem floods dark corners with light. Tight as a coiled spring, these pieces test the limits of compression.  Each is a jewel. —Jana Harris, author of Horses Never Lie About Love (memoir) and You Haven’t Asked About My Wedding or What I Wore (poetry)

The New Year (2022)

Dear Friends,

A new year arrives as the sun moves higher overhead and a goldfinch couple feeds in the lavender by my front door. After a month of rest, I am reviewing the marvel of our Sacred Sites audio book adventure. I am heart-full with gratitude for your support! Thank you to all who have written to us since the audio book was released. Your praise has kept us steady and inspired!

“…riveted from beginning to end.” ” Thank you so much for creating this beautiful experience.” “… an absolute delight.” And from AudioFile magazine: “…don’t miss listening to this astoundingly creative exploration of the history of place… Gary Snyder’s introduction, read enthusiastically by Peter Coyote…The emotional nuances of Suntree and Queypo’s delivery will make your ears dance.”

We intended to create a beautiful, entertaining, and mind -changing production, and your responses tell me that this is what we accomplished.

Just before Christmas our production team attended the Society for Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS) awards gala at the Guggenheim Museum theatre in New York City because Sacred Sites audio book was chosen as one of five finalists for sound design. We were competing with an international slate of entrants, which highlighted all the more our composer/editor Tom Zehnder’s fabulous work. What a delight it was for our team to celebrate our Sacred Sites audio book this way.

Now we continue the adventure of letting people know about this work. Your ideas about how to get the word out are most welcome! Please be in touch. Radio, TV, print, pod casts and social media connections would be great!

Author’s discount: or wherever audiobooks are offered including many libraries. (Yes, our GoFundMe is still up if you would like to support our publicity campaign:

[Photo: Susan Suntree; Tom Zehnder, composer/editor; Gopika Sharma, producer; Tom Keegan, director]