Dear Traveler

Dear Traveler (poetry), Finishing Line Press, October, 2021

The poems are addressed to a traveler in a world grown perilous even as it is ever vivid with beauty, humor, and generative power. This collection will accompany you through the cycling seasons, political and environmental turmoil, life and death, ordinary delight and gratitude.

Many thanks to the poets who have written in praise of the manuscript (see below) and to Tim Gibbs-Zehnder who designed the cover.

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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 and Director 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

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.

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)

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

Poetry Reading: Doren Robbins & Susan Suntree