Please give a warm welcome to poet/author Susie Clevenger
Tell us a bit about yourself
Goodness, I’m not sure where to start. I’m an author, poet, writer, amateur photographer, and a music junkie. My husband and I have a lot of friends who are musicians so we spend as much time as we can attending live music performances, even if it means we need to do some serious traveling to get to one.I also have a deep nature connection. I grew up in a small house surrounded by woods and lived most of my life outdoors. I learned the beauty of solitude, observation, listening, and the wonder of wildlife. In many ways it’s those early experiences that keeps me grounded now when life gets tough.
Have you always wanted to become an author?
When I was a teenager, I thought about it, picked up the idea again in my late twenties, but I didn’t publish my first book until age 61. Ironically it was a car accident in 2006 where I suffered brain damage that brought me back to poetry, and serious consideration of writing a book. I entered an intersection on a bright sunny day as one person and was changed in seconds. A lot of me was/is still present, but memory gaps, personality changes, and ADD became the soup I’m forced to live in. Thank goodness I have a husband who has and continues to love me through all of it. As part of my self-rehabilitation I began writing poetry in 2009. All things writing blossomed from that point.
What was your inspiration for your current book?
Ben Ditmars presented me with the idea of co-writing a poetry book that focused on how the experiences of our youth formed a foundation for who we are now. Our book Splinters is a bit humor, a bit survival, and a bit sarcastic. Our hope was/is when people read it, they realize some splinters go deep, but they don’t have to live in their wounds.
What are you working on now?
I’m going back and forth with what I want to do. I am considering an anthology of poems taken from my blog, Black Ink Howl, as well as including new poetry. My tag line under the blog title speaks my reason for creating the blog, “Venting the Orwellian Hand Maid’s Tale Psychotic of the current American Dream”. Also, I am tossing around the idea of turning my Twila series poems into a book. She is a thirteen-year-old who lives along the Atchafalaya river in Louisiana. Her generational gift of spirituality is a sort of dark coming of age story. This is a quote from one of the poems in the series, Night of River Bones,” The moon won’t come near the river when the Wailers rattle their spines against the cattails.”
Do you have any quirks while writing?
I can’t write if there is any human noise, like talking, television, music with lyrics, etc. I need to be secluded in my tiny claustrophobic corner of a bedroom. I usually light incense, open the window shade (day or night), and sit down to a desk my father built. Oh, and on the right side of the desk is always a pile of poetry books.
What are your hopes for the future?
I could go off on religion and politics, but that is a dead-end history always reaches. I hope we humans wake up, stop destroying life, and learn war never brings peace.
Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?
It is a tough place to get a shoulder in. Dreams take hard work, but there is no expiration date. Believe in yourself. Always be willing to learn, appreciate critique, and keep a light on when those rejection letters roll in from publishers. If you choose to self-publish, there is a huge family in Independent publishing who are willing to help guide you through the process.
Do you have anything to say to your readers?
I appreciate everyone who reads my work. You are such a blessing to me, such a well of encouragement. I don’t know where I would be on this journey without you. Thank you so much.
Poem: Night of River Bones