I first met Susan Rich through her poetry, published by White Pine Press, and her blog. I later was able to attend the writing retreat, Poets on the Coast, that she co-leads with Kelli Russell Agodon. In this interview, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Susan’s work, writing influences and commitment to literary citizenship. -Jessica Gigot

Photo Credit: Rosanne Olson 

JG: What poets/poems have been most influential on your work? You mentioned Elizabeth Bishop in your blog awhile back, but what other writers/teachers have shaped or continue to shape your work?

SR: Emily Dickinson was the first poet I discovered. As a first year high school student, I was lucky enough to take a course devoted to Dickinson. Later on, I attended university in Amherst, Massachusetts where my bus stop home from town was situated in front of the Dickinson house — at that point inhabited by a professor (now recreated as a museum). Dickinson’s sparseness and mystery, her musical lines and lasting elements of surprise have meant a good deal to me over the years. Recently, I feel like I’m returning to her work again and appreciating it all the more.

Later on, and for a very long time, the triumvirate of Elizabeth Bishop, Denise Levertov, and Adrienne Rich became my poetic touchstones. Poets we discover when we are very young, I suspect, seep into our bones. We carry them with us for a lifetime.

JG: Speaking of your blog, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, I find it very informative and helpful. What are your thoughts on blogging and how it intertwines with your life as a poet?

SR: The first year of the blog I posted a new article almost everyday! I love Top 10 lists so I have a top ten tips for sending your poems into the world and another top 10 list for applying to writing residencies, and another for dealing with rejection. I believe that for a blog to succeed it needs to do two things well: offer practical information to others writers and provide insight into the imaginative life of the blogger.

JG: Your poem “Boketto” was featured by the Academy of American Poets last year. I find this poem to be a serene meditation on both seeing and being. Can you talk more about the inspiration for this poem and how it came together for you? Is it part of a new manuscript?

SR: Thanks, for asking