Black Lawrence Press
April 4, 2012

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Sarah Suzor

From The Human Condition

…so the dream ends with my friend shaking my shoulders,
telling me what she’s told me a thousand times:
“Pay attention to what people tell you about themselves.”

I still tell people the same things about myself.

I mean, I say the same things I used to say to you.

Anyway, someone suggested I re-read The Great Gatsby,
You know, while I’m here.
So I did.

At one point Nick looks at Gatsby and says,
“You can’t repeat the past.”
Then Gatsby looks at Nick and says,
“Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can.”

I’m not sure who is more right or more wrong,
but in the end, you know,
Gatsby’s the one that ends up dead.

Some nights I open my window and I can still hear the ocean.
As if it was in plain site, right out my door,
it’s remarkable, really, because it’s not there.
People have started telling me,
“You’ll know what to do when you have to do it.”
I don’t blame them.
I’d say the same thing.
Especially in this scenario.
It just makes it harder, you know,
harder to tell who’s more right or more wrong.

Anyway, I’ve developed an earache,
but I met some woman from Italy at the market.
We talked for a while.
Laughed at the city, laughed at how quickly
time comes and goes here.
Like we’re all just ghosts, we agreed,
all just ghosts.
In parting she said,
“Well, my money’s on you,”
which is the same as saying,
“You’ll know what to do when you have to do it.”

Anyway, I walked home,
put my things in the fridge
and listened to the same song 14 times.

I’m fine. I mean,
the ear is a little concerning.
Oh, and the dreams, I guess. And
the phantom ocean sounds, and
how often I remind myself of what Gatsby said, you know,

he waited his whole life for one person.
Those parties, they were all for her.
He built his entire world around the hope
that one day she’d walk through his door


Anyway, that stuff’s all made up and
spring really is beautiful here;
it’s nothing like winter.
You should see the flowers that are starting to line my street.
They sure make a difference, really.
You should see.



Q: What is your writing process?

A: I listen to everything. Then I write it down.

Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: Yes. A million. Ish Klein is fantastic and a brilliant reader, and Elizabeth Robinson’s book Three Novels was one of my 2011 favorites.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: I teach at the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris every summer. I write more in that one week than I write all year; it’s such an inspirational environment. But if I could pick one more get-away, I’d choose some secluded area in Argentina, pack two dresses, a candle and thirty journals. I’d go seeking a porch swing.

Sarah Suzor’s recent book The Principle Agent was the winner of the 2010 Hudson Prize and released from Black Lawrence Press in 2011. Her poetry, interviews and reviews have been published in numerous online and print journals. She is a co-editor of Highway 101 Press and a guest lecturer at the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris.  

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