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!

Susan

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: https://shop.authors-direct.com/collections/suntree-sacred-sites-audiobook or wherever audiobooks are offered including many libraries. (Yes, our GoFundMe is still up if you would like to support our publicity campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/f/sacred-sites-audio-theater)

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

SACRED SITES IN THE ARGONAUT

JULY 1, 2021 THE ARGONAUT PAGE 17
A R T S & E V E N T S
SoCal’s Secret History Santa Monica author releases new audiobook
By Haley Beyer

Susan Suntree’s best-selling, award-winning book, “Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California”, was first published in 2010 and describes the origins of the universe, the evolution of plants and animals, migration of humans and much more.

In 2021, Suntree released a new audiobook version of her book, which is available on 41 sites including Amazon, Google and Audible. The inspiration for the audiobook stemmed from her curiosity of how things came to be. “I asked myself how did things come to be the way they are?” Suntree said. “I wanted to see through the palm trees ; and concrete.” Suntree wanted people to feel like they were part of the world they lived in. SoCal expert Susan Suntree’s new audiobook “Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California” features little-known information about the geological formation of the landscape, Native American sacred villages, and the coming of the Europeans, She felt misplaced in Los Angeles because there was no information available about the landscape or indigenous people. She used her experience as a performance artist, teacher and 18th Street Art Center resident artist to start her research and worked with tribal leaders, artists, historians and scientists at major universities and museums.

What Suntree discovered changed the way she viewed her home and she wanted to share that with everyone around her. “Southern California is a dynamic place,” Suntree said. “There is continual transformational landscape. It is a force of life on this astounding planet. It is all intelligence. All alive.” In the audiobook, Suntree covers the history of the Native American people who lived in Southern California for more than 15,000 years. She also shares information about the Tongva and other indigenous tribes with their villages Cahuenga, Tujunga, Topanga and other familiar locations. One fact that most people do not know is that the oldest human skeleton in North America was found in LA. After exploring the Santa Monica Mountains, 16-millionyear-old seashells that were once coastal seabeds were found as well. Earthquakes are responsible for pushing the mountains higher, and after the Ice Age ended, the bay that once filled the LA basin retreated and the region basked in the current Mediterranean climate that LA is known for today. Suntree’s journey began as a one-woman show, which was then made into her best-selling book. Making it into an audiobook “restored it to its native being.” “My worlds didn’t collide, the two worlds became braided together,” Suntree said.

To prepare for recording, Suntree went through voice exercises and lessons. Once the work began, she worked every single day until it was completed. The work was tedious because the layering of the music, voices of the characters, and creating a clear concept of the timeline was essential to creating the perfect interpretation. The music helped move the story along and Suntree enjoyed working with composer Tom Zehnder and featured Ernest Siva. She also worked with actor Kalani Queypo and Peter Coyote, an Emmy Award-winning narrator of documentaries. “It was so important for me to work with these two people,”Suntree said. “It felt right to have the male voice of Queypo, an indigenous person, tell the story alongside someone as brilliant and experienced as Coyote. “To purchase the audio book, visit shop.authors-direct.com/collections/suntree-sacred-sitesaudiobook The audiobook is narrated by Suntree and actor Kalani Queypo, and features Peter Coyote, the voice of Ken Burns’ documentaries. CREDIT: TONY VEREBES

CREDITS: AUDIOBOOK COVER IMAGE: JUERGEN NOGAI;

COVER DESIGN: TIM GIBBS-ZEHNDER

Audio Theater Update

November 19, 2020

Dear Friends,

In a year of continuing challenges, we have very good news to report: Phase one of our Sacred Sites audio theater production is completed! I am thrilled to type these words!

We are so grateful for the support so many of you have provided. Without you, we would not have come so far. After months of preparation rehearsing, working with linguists and other consultants, and much more, we have completed 22 hours of recording. The Media Staff studio, a supporter of this project, has one of the best recording rooms in Los Angeles. The raw material sounds excellent. In my next letter, I will share clips of the recordings.

It is a pleasure to introduce to you Kalani Queypo (Blackfoot, Hawaiian) who reads with me Book 2 and the Epilogue. He is a founding member of the National American Indian Committee at SAG-AFTRA. Among his many credits are Terrence Malick’s The New WorldJamestown, and Fear the Walking Dead. I’ve included his headshot and bio plus studio shots at the end of this letter.

Phase Two has begun: editing, music composition and licensing, mastering, distribution, and publicity. Since we are an independent production, we must do everything we can to get this timely and inspiring project out to the public.

To do this, once again I need your assistance. Please reach out to anyone you feel would love this work and would join our mighty team of supporters — no amount is too small (or too large!).

Sacred Sites is a story that weaves the world together. It inspires us to love this earth and, thus to care for it in every way we can. It is essential that we understand natural systems and learn the many ways we humans have and can, once again, live in harmony with all life.

Thank you for being a part of this creation.

http://www.gofundme.com/f/sacred-sites-audio-theater

Or send a check made out to Sacred Sites LLC to 41 No. Logan St., Denver CO 80203.

With deep appreciation,

Susan

Kalani Queypo (Blackfeet, Hawaiian) proudly serves on the Native Voices Advisory Council and is a founding member of the National American Indian Committee at SAG-AFTRA. He can be seen in the Oscar-nominated, Terrence Malick film, The New World, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy winning Into the West and Slow West (Sundance GRAND JURY PRIZE). Television credits include Jamestown (producers of Downton Abbey), Saints & Strangers, Fear the Walking DeadMad MenNurse JackieBones, and Hawaii Five-0. Queypo is currently filming the new CBC series, The Trickster.

Kalani and me at the end of his session.

Director Tom Keegan and engineer Anthony Alfaro

Me on my last day of recording (16 hours over four days!)

Jerry Mayfield, whose Media Staff studio was a wonderful place to work. He is famous for his sourdough bread which he served at every session with his homemade jam. What delight!

Good news

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your family and friends are safe, well, and steady (enough). I deeply appreciate all of the support you have given me and my creative projects over the years and I wanted to give you an update. In the midst of the world being upside down, I’m pleased to share some good news.

SACRED SITES: THE SECRET HISTORY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA was selected by its publisher, University of Nebraska Press, to be brought out in an updated paperback edition. I am very grateful to the press for their faith in the book. They feel, as do I, that it will reach more people in this new format. I’ve attached the cover which includes some new praise (including Stephen Greenblatt and Glen MacDonald) and which makes good use of the beautiful design they created for the hard-back edition.

It is now available. Your reviews posted wherever you buy books and on social media are a great plus and I thank you in advance for that support. https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9780803231986/

READINGS: On the official publication date of the paperback edition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, June 1, 2020, I was scheduled to read at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History at the invitation of the Santa Barbara Archaeology Association. It is postponed. When it is scheduled I will let you know.

My presentation includes a colorful slide show of largely unknown cultural and geographical features of the Southern California landscape discussed in my book. Please tell your friends who live in that area to join us when the reading happens.

I am also scheduled to read at 7:30 PM on June 18 at the E.P Foster Library in Ventura at the invitation of Phil Taggart.   See next post for information about how to attend via zoom!

If your organization, bookstore, or get-together of friends would like me to read, please do be in touch. I love sharing this work. Yes, one day we will gather again. Meanwhile, we can zoom!

SACRED SITES AUDIO BOOK: A marvelous team has coalesced around the project of producing Sacred Sites as an audio book. This has been a dream of mine for years! And now it is coming to fruition. Based on the updated new paperback, this production captures the book’s poetic essence. Epics have always been sung, and though I am not going to sing, the audio book will capture the sense of the work as a song cycle.

We are thrilled that Peter Coyote has recorded the foreword by Gary Snyder and the introduction! It’s a big project requiring the input of linguists, musicians, consultants, and many others. We are already in rehearsal via zoom and soon will be raising money to fund a stellar recording to share with the world. I’ll keep you posted!

A CHORAL QUILT OF HOPE: THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

You may remember that I adapted the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a poem and that award-winning composer Adrienne Albert’s set it as a choral work (adriennealbert.com). The Preamble of our composition has often been sung, but now the 75-voice Concord Chorale of Concord, New Hampshire will premiere the complete composition with orchestral accompaniment. Originally scheduled forMother’s Day weekend, this unforgettable evening is postponed. I will let you know when it is rescheduled.

I learned about the UNDHR when I compiled and edited, Wisdom of the East: Stories of Compassion, Inspiration, and Love (Contemporary Books) for which the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword. One of the essays recounts the connection between the Roosevelts’ encounter with the Dalai Lama and Eleanor’s inspired shepherding of the document to international ratification at a meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco on December 10, 1948. When I first read the document, I knew that a choral work would allow it to resonate in the hearts of all who sing and hear it.  

Finally, I am so very pleased now to have a studio at 18th Street Arts Center. It’s an honor and a boon!

Please like the Sacred Sites facebook page and check for it on Instagram. I’ll be posting lots of updates on my soon to be updated website: http://www.susansuntree.com/.

Lately, when I breath the cleaner, bluer air here in Los Angeles, I am reminded of what is truly possible when we act on behalf of the community.

Love,

Susan

September Post

3 September 2019

Dear Friends,

Literary Good News:

Attached is the flyer for our Writers Circle reading at Beyond Baroque Literary Center on 6 September, 8 PM, in Venice. We four writers meet weekly. Each of us has developed a body of work, both poetry, storytelling, memoir, creative nonfiction, and fiction that demonstrate a range of styles and voices We are eager to share. Join us!

Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California will be published in a paperback next spring which will include a few updates in the science section. I am thrilled about this! And there is an audio book in the works which I will report on in the fall.

In November, I will be reading on the creative writing panel at the Pacific-Asia Modern Language Association (PAMLA) conference in San Diego.

11th Street Historic Bungalow District:  Our indefatigable committee has regrouped after the intense effort that led to our success in establishing this district. Now we are preparing for negotiations about the rules that will govern its ongoing care.   I am ever grateful to all of you who helped along the way. Every single contribution mattered!

The Santa Monica Conservancy honored me and my co-chair, Diane Miller, with the 2019 Preservation Advocacy Award. They also honored Mid City Neighbors for their essential support of our project. I felt truly honored to receive this recognition which not only honors me but all the many people who contributed to the establishment of this historic district.

I’ve finally completed my notes and sorted the slides about my grueling and utterly fascinating journey last August to Western Mongolia which I am happy to share with you. I held a screening for a few people last week and am happy to do so again.  Meanwhile, I’ll soon set out on the Norwegian mail boat from Kirkenes, a very far northern Norwegian town,traveling south through the fjords. My sister and I will disembark at the Lofoten Islands for a few days before completing the journey to Bergen. Thereafter we will take the train over the mountains to Oslo. We are promised spectacular scenery and wild weather.

Summer with its heat and light, bumper crop of crises, and garden vigor presented itself with the lengthening and now slowly shortening days. In the afternoon when it’s time to stretch and walk, I look out my studio window here at 18th Street Art Center with increasing wonder at the earthly beauty of the Holocene, lately named the Anthropocene for the human hands and minds that want to overtake that beauty while some of us work to restore and support it. Our work is ever present.

With the season, Susan

Reading Date Change and Choral Quilt of Hope to be Performed!

READING DATE CHANGE AND GOOD NEWS

4 May 208

Dear Friends,

CHANGE OF DATE: My reading at Britt Marie in Albany is happening on Sunday, 20 May at 3:30 (see the poster below)!

Sorry for the confusion! I hope to see you there. Britt Marie is one of those beloved restaurants that people regularly return to. It was bought a few years ago by a former student of mine. Timo Rodriguez was a memorably smart, lively unto wild young man attending one of my remedial writing courses at East Los Angeles College. He went on to earn a PhD at UC Berkeley, but tiring of academic life, bought Britt Marie and introduced a poetry series among other lively additions to the restaurants great food and ambiance. Plan to stay for dinner!

Good News: My adaptation as a poem of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set as a choral work by award winning composer Adrienne Albert: A Choral Quilt of Hope, will be sung in Kansas City this summer. They will sing the Preamble and plan to present the complete work later this year. We hope to see this work sung across the country and, in translation, around the world, so people will embody the UNDHR’s vision, articulated so long ago, of peace and community benefit for all.

June 24, 2018
A CHORAL QUILT OF HOPE: PREAMBLE (click to go to Adrienne’s site)
Westport Presbyterian Church
Kansas City, MO 64111

 Good News: Our efforts to create an Historic 11th Street Bungalow District moves forward. We received a strong letter of endorsement from Pasadena Heritage, one of the foremost conservancies in the country.

May! The month of Green Grass. Upcoming: June, “The Little Month of bright summer air/when the young eagles fly.”

Susan

He Wore Hats

He Wore Hats by Susan Suntree

See it here:

02/17/2017 By Postcard Poems & Prose

Susan Suntree writes poetry and essays, pesters the crowds at malls and parks with her mask and puppet street theatre, and works to save wetlands and indigenous sacred places. Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, received an Independent Booksellers Association Award for Nonfiction, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Poetic Narrative, a Mellon Foundation Award. Other books: Eye of the Womb/El Ojo de la Matriz (poetry in English and bilingual editions), Tulips (translations of poetry by Spanish poet Ana Rossetti), also Rita Moreno, Wisdom of the East. Poems in, among others, Prairie Schooner, ZinkZine 6, Ensemble Jourine, Piedra del Molino, REAL, Fightin’ WordsPEN Anthology. Reviews in Poetry Flash and Theater Journal.

Website: http://www.susansuntree.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading, Historic District Update, Publications

May 2017

Dear Friends,

Update on Historic District: Since I last wrote, we continue our work to establish an 11th Street Bungalow Historic District (which preserves my 106 -year-old bungalow: 1223 11th Street. A couple of weeks ago, we submitted our Community Consultants’  Report which includes, among other documents, histories of each of the bungalows and some fascinating stories about the people who lived on our block in the early decades of the 2oth Century–the people who made Santa Monica a home town.

Our hearing before the Landmarks Commission is schedule for 12 June 2017. I will send an alert letting you know when and where to send an email. Remember: even a sentence or two is an effective vote! A district protects the houses while it recognizes our neighborhood as a place where an interconnection of people and place–the basis of community–is expressed in the design of the homes.

For those of you who might be interested, I’ve attached my short history of the block which begins with the land itself and continues with the story of the human community.

Upcoming: On 15 May at 7 PM (see flyer for map), I’m giving a presentation of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California for the Santa Susana Mountain Parks Association. Free and open to the public. Bring a book to have signed! I’ll also have a few available (cash or check) after the reading. Please join us!

The SSMPA works to preserve the unique landscape of the Simi Hills where some of the most important indigenous sacred sites are located (the Burro Flats winter and summer solstice ceremonial sites, among others, which I write about in Sacred Sites). Rocket engines that flew to the moon, among other military projects, were tested here–a complicated legacy whose remnants must be seen for the history to be grasped. And the land itself is authentic Southern California wild beauty with abundant natural life— a rarity and a treasure that must be protected.

Publications: “He Wore Hats” (attached) was recently published in a visual format. My short essay in praise of the venerable SoCal literary center, Beyond Baroque (attached) is posted on Harry Northup’s poetry blog: http://timestimes3.blogspot.com/2017/05/beyond-baroque-star-and-spur.html. I’ve nearly completed another book of poetry (The Traveler Poems) which will soon fly into the ether to find its publisher. My memoir about “going back to the land” in the early 1970s will be included in an anthology about what happened to people who responded to this dream.

Wild blooms still brighten the landscape, and pale sycamore leaves turn toward deep summer green. We had a hard rain last night, so the ground and roots won’t forget spring just yet. Traditionally Southern California Native Americans wore garlands of wildflowers during this brief and fragrant season.

Our attention to the community of life nourishes what the current political climate would starve.

In concert,  Susan

Castle Peak, a Place of the Tongues in the Simi Hills