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.
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.
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 readingnew 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.”
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)