(Read Susan’s wonderful poem That Year in our archives.)
I have long admired the poetry of Susan Meyers. Its beauty, and grace and gentle honesty speak to me in a way that is calming, satisfying, and somehow “right.” Even her most intensely personal poems manage to seem more universal than confessional. Most of all, I love the simple elegance of Susan’s poetry. It sneaks up on the reader–at least this reader. I so often read her work and think, “of course.” Wise is the poet who can get out of the way and let the words give the reader the experience, thought, image, epiphany that the verse offers up. Susan does this in a way that is not only satisfying, but that seems natural and effortless. (I know just enough about poetry to know that it isn’t.)
I highly recommend her marvelous first book Keep and Give Away, which won the SC Poetry Book Prize, the Brockman-Campbell Book Award and the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Book Award for Poetry. A great review of Keep and Give Away can be read here. She has also had her fine poem Hat of Many Goldfinches featured on Verse Daily and you can visit her poetry blog here.
Here is the lovely title poem from that collection:
Keep and Give Away
What do I know of man’s destiny?
I could tell you more about radishes.
— Samuel Beckett
With a bushel basket in hand
he’s the tally of my ripest desires,
more than the sum of his summer
crops, perfect and plentiful as they are—
even counting Early Contenders
and Silver Queen. Burpless
cucumbers, Kentucky Wonders, too.
Throw in the fruit to sweeten
the numbers: blackberries and figs
piled in pyramids or weighed
in pecks. And don’t forget
the peppers (red, yellow, green),
divided into keep and give away.
Dinner plates—heaped with leafiness,
tubers, and pods—heavy
with the haul and roots of his labor.
Now he’s shelling peas in his lap
and I sit across the room, listening
to the ping, ping. He’s more
than the sum, I cannot count the ways,
and despite a constant reckoning
of work and luck, numbers fail me
in this long, hot growing season.