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2005 Writers Forum
Susan Rich

Susan Rich is the author of The Cartographer's Tongue: Poems of the World, winner of the PEN West Award for Poetry and the Peace Corps Writers Award. Her poetry oftentimes reflects her experiences working with Amnesty International, the U.S. Peace Corps, as well as human rights work in Bosnia and Palestine. Susan's poetry has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, North American Review, Poetry International, Prism International and Witness. Recent awards include a Fulbright Fellowship to South Africa, an Artist Trust Fellowship from Washington State, and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Susan lives in Seattle, is an editor for Floating Bridge Press, and teaches at Highline Community College. Her second collection of poems, Cures Include Travel, is due out from White Pine Press. Please visit Susan at www.susanrich.org to find out more. Susan Rich photo
photo credit:
dean wong
Read and listen to excerpts from a discussion between Susan Rich and 2005 curator John Mifsud.
Listen to an excerpt of Susan's reading (MP3)
We Talk of What You’ll Do When You Return

Invite in the warlords, text-message the deadly
youth of Mogadishu

tell the women hand-washing linen

Koranic students chanting
under the commiphora tree

to cancel all negotiation
abandon gifts from Global Relief.

In the dream of return
coaching family rhythms

into leagues of athletic rivalry
you’ll pump-up each clan, and sub-clan

to compete! compete! compete!

Not over wells to poison
nor uncles, cousins, children

dead in the fields
dead along open-sewered streets.

Instead you’ll imagine a world —

a ribbon of Olympic torchlight
re-lighting Somali legend

with no angst or anxiety.
In the counting of the names

which tribe will claim the most
doctors, teachers, road builders;

which family the Nobel Laureate,
the poster child Ph.D?

In Kismayo, the young girl fills test tubes

invests in her own depths of discovery.
The young boy draws his life

from the sweet liquid of drainpipes
rainwater cultivating

your landscape, each acre
breathing along an open coastal sea.
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