Entering the House of Awe
A Green Rose Book
Two teachers during my junior year in college were the best I’ve ever had, a man who’d pause for minutes till the right word came to him and a woman who ran pell-mell after the word she wanted, piling synonym on synonym till she’d caught her prey. Susanna Childress is both these people at the same time, and out of that tension comes the best poetry I’ve read in years. It’s impossible to pick a favorite poem, but one that represents her voice at its warmest and most compelling is the one in which the poet is being courted by a man who can’t dance yet dances for her. It works! Just as these poems do, every one of them.
Readers familiar with Susanna Childress’s Jagged with Love will recognize her distinctive voice in these poems: her nerve, her honest, quirky, irreverent, immediate and embodied yearning that rushes, wordy, right up to the ragged margins! In this second collection, new formal approaches bring breath and space to the lines, even delicacy sometimes, but these fine poems move with no less urgency because they are compelled by her signature quest for truthfulness. This search refuses perfectionism and mere aestheticism, yet admits beauty enroute, as Childress claims, “There needs to be no right word There needs to be a wide hole a whole mouth where the right word isn’t.”
—Julia Spicher Kasdorf
There are rough truths and beauty buried in Entering the House of Awe, and Susanna Childress fearlessly delves that dark terrain inside her sometimes difficult subjects, re-emerging with new vision both surprising and luminescent.
Praise for Jagged with Love:
Susanna Childress writes at the cutting edge of the long tradition of love poetry. Her poems often involve tense negotiations between a sharp cultural intelligence and a body that craves its fulfillment. She writes with grace about love and lust, and she unfailingly delivers rhythmic and linguistic pleasures to her lucky readers as they follow the course of these inquisitive, unpredictable poems.
Susanna Childress holds a Master’s from The University of Texas at Austin and a PhD from Florida State University. Her first book, Jagged with Love, was awarded the Brittingham Prize in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from the University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale. She has received an AWP Intro Journals Award, the National Career Award in Poetry from the National Society of Arts and Letters, and a Lilly post-doctoral fellowship. She lives in Holland, Michigan.