Me: Nice of you to drop by on this sunny-without-even-a-hint-of-rain day, Susan. Are you carrying an umbrella, just in case?

Susan: What? Are you kidding? I live in the Pacific Northwest! Being caught with an umbrella is totally uncool in a meteorologically diverse town like ours. We wear layers, madam, and in the case of unusually challenging precipitation, rain gear. If you were from around here you’d know that. 

Me: Hmmm…so what’s up with the photo? 

Susan: The photo? What photo? I don’t see any photo.

Me: Moving on. You’re a poet and a writer, right?

Susan: Correct. I mostly write poetry, what I like to call “poemoirs,” poems based on moments from my life. Here’s a poemoir inspired by our resident squirrel.

               On Being A Squirrel                      

One spurious theory claims
the purpose of our huge brain
is to filter out the overwhelming beauty
of the universe,
to minimalize aesthetic distractions
that get in the way of being human,
in which case,
it would be better to be
a tiny-as-a-walnut-brained
gray squirrel
spread-eagle on a cedar fence,
the crepuscular energy
of star infinities
warming your back fur,
the shimmer of spring mist
glazing the gallery
of Douglas fir burls
around you,
the epicurian scents
of newborn maple buds
sending you into whirling fits
of unfurled

When I’m not writing poems, I work on a novel I’ve been revising forever, set in Mexico, where I lived for a few years in a fishing village. And almost every day, I write and paint with pen and watercolors in journals. I’ve probably done close to a hundred of those. And then there’s blogging and…

Me: Okay, we get the idea. Where do you do all that writing? 

Susan: Well, I write wherever I am. If I’m at home, I write in “Raven’s Roost,” the little cottage in our garden that my husband built to keep my book piles somewhat contained. Here’s a photo of the Roost. 


If I’m in Fairbanks, Alaska, visiting my daughter’s family, I write in coffee houses or the library, where it’s warm and the people are wild and interesting. In Taipei, where my son lives, I love to write in parks with moon bridges; or in tea houses in the mountains, sipping oolong; or on islands filled with goats and orchids. In Mexico, I write exclusively under a palapa in a tiny restaurant on the beach that serves Pacifico beer with lime. And so on. This winter I’ll be in New Zealand, where my husband’s from, and I’ll write anywhere there’s water, which is to say, everywhere. 

Me: Suffer on.

Susan: Will do.

Me: I have one last question for our initial interview. What is your tool of choice when it comes to writing? Do you prefer a pen, a pencil, frost on a windshield, chalk on a sidewalk? What?

Susan: That depends on what I’m writing. Like you, I have a laptop, and I’m a fast typist. For sure, faster than you. So, when it comes to poeming, noveling or blogging, Mac’s my best friend. But when I’m journaling, which is impossible for me to do without sketching and painting, I use watercolor journals, a field kit of pigments, a collection of brushes and waterproof ink pens. Below is a photo of a journal page I wrote/painted in Puerto Vallarta this past winter.


Me: Susan, thank you. Our time is up, and besides, it’s hard for me to concentrate with your stomach growling like a grizzly. See you soon?

Susan: Yeah, sure, whenever. BTW, you sure look familiar. Maybe in a past life?