My newest book, Dear Traveler (2021) was published by Finishing Line Press, a poetry press in Kentucky.
These poems are addressed to a traveler in a world grown perilous even as it is ever vivid with beauty, humor, and generative power. It is a collection meant to 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.
To order my book for yourself or a friend, use the following link or find it wherever books are sold: www.finishinglinepress.com/product/dear-traveler-by-susan-suntree/
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
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
Transformation to audio theater:
“A Choral Quilt of Hope” is an adaptation by Susan Suntree of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, on 10 December – forever after Human Rights Day around the world. Inspired by an essay by Ford Roosevelt in her book Wisdom of the East about the origins of this magnificent document, Suntree adapted the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a poem, which award winning composer Adrienne Albert subsequently set to music for choirs and piano.
On January 22 and 23, 2020, The Concord Chorale in Concorde, New Hampshire, presented the Preamble in a virtual concert that honored women composers and human rights. They will present a premiere of the complete composition with orchestral accompaniment later in 2021.
It has been given numerous performances at Human Rights Day events including the One Light interfaith celebration on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall (September 2011). The American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA presented a beautiful and emotional performance of the composition as the opening event of their Human Rights Week.
Like a Quilt of Hope, the singing of this document brings its message to people in the unique way that art communicates with the human spirit, connecting people across these United States and around the world. Singing these profound words will weave the Declaration into cultural awareness making it accessible, understandable, and beloved by all.
The choral settings include both shorter and longer (the adapted document) versions. More information is available here: www.adriennealbert.com. As Adrienne has written: This is a document so powerful in its meaning and intent, it should be known in every language, in every village, town, and country. Our hope is to have this work performed in a multitude of languages and places throughout the world. The work may be sung simply in unison or in parts with piano or organ accompaniment.