Ottawa poet Susan McMaster has published some two dozen books, magazines, and anthologies, including recordings with First Draft, SugarBeat, and Geode Music & Poetry. She is the founding editor of Canada's first feminist magazine, Branching Out, and has organized such projects as "Dangerous Graces: Women's Poetry on Stage" (Great Canadian Theater Company) and "Convergence: Poems for Peace", which brought poetry and art from across Canada to all parliamentarians for the millennium. Recently her work has placed for the Ottawa Book Awards, the Acorn-Plantos People's Poetry Prize, Arc Magazine's Best Poem of the Year and Archibald Lampman awards, and the Montreal International Poetry Prize. McMaster is a former president of the League of Canadian Poets, and a member of PEN, TWUC, FSNA, and CWILA.
Selected Publications (See also Bio & List of Works, and Reviews & Quotes.)
Lizard Love: Artists Scan Poems by Susan McMaster (Borealis, launched 9 May 2017, Tree Reading Series, Ottawa) presents 45 paintings, drawing, collages, sculptures, and photographic interpretations of the poet's words selected from three decades of collaboration with 18 contemporary Canadian artists. Each artwork is accompanied by its matching poem. Full colour, 8 X 10 in. To preview or purchase the pre-publication limited artists' edition, see Lizard Love: Artists Scan Poems by Susan McMaster.
Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me (Black Moss,
2009/10) weaves Susan's poems with comments from her mother, Betty
Page, as they together face her decline. Photographs by Marty Gervais.
Shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos, Ottawa Book, and Lampman Awards.
Recordings include Things You'll Never Know: Selected poems and music from Crossing Arcs (2014), with composer Jennifer Giles; and Crossing Arcs: Gift to be simple (2015), with composer Barbara Dyck (see Words Aloud Youtube).
Robert Sealey, Open Minds Quarterly: "Pithy, powerful and poignant insights."
Lara Henderson, The Campus: Bishop's: "Put[s] a voice to a difficult experience by fracturing it into small observations, which convey emotion without overwhelming the reader."
"The right complex of sorrow, anger, and even joy..."
"Struck by the beauty of this book: its... insight, clarity, intimacy, understanding, honour of person, love and angst."
"Couldn't put it down... relevant to anyone who has a family member or friend suffering from dementia."
"Simple and yet evocative... like an intimate play."
"How can heartbreak be so lovely?... it’s the tenderness of each word."
"Thoughtful, honest, funny, eye-opening..."
"A tour de force."
Paper Affair: Poems Selected & New (Black Moss, 2010) surveys McMaster’s page poetry from 1986 to 2007, drawing from Dark Galaxies, The Hummingbird Murders, Learning to Ride, Uncommon Prayer, and Until the Light Bends.
Janice Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen: "Whether exploring love and loss, navigating the passages of time, or singing in the sensuous joy of the moment, McMaster seduces with a juggler's grace, a sorcerer's dazzle and a stubborn passion's sweet and insistent throb."
Carolyn Smart, editor McGill-Queen's: "McMaster's purview is the world entire, with all its mystery, heartbreak and magic. This extensive and revealing volume displays her range and her heart, in equal measure."
Dave Margoshes, director, Sage Hill writing program: "These are deceptively simple poems, but there’s nothing deceptive about their craftsmanship or their honesty. The best ones ease up to you, then sting."
Jan Conn, writer: "These deeply felt poems embrace domestic scenes and the dense, complex weave of human relationships, then whirl us away to the quantum world, where they 'admit the draw of starlight'. There is rhythm and verve in every dimension McMaster explores."
Heather Spears, GG award winner: "Winsome, muscular, candid, intimate yet universal. McMaster has an open, seemingly effortless control of her craft and the genius to bring each poem to a startling, inevitable (and beautiful) conclusion."
Pith and Wry: Canadian Poetry (editor) (Scrivener Press,
2010) collects new poetry by 45 living authors, renowned and
emerging, from sea to sea to sea. Contributors include Atwood, Moure,
McKay, Crozier, Reid, Kemp, Nash, Eichhorn, Dalton, Lee, and Klassen.
M.E. Csamer, Antigonish Review: "The voices, emerging and mature alike, are strong, full of compassion, insight, intelligence. Everywhere I find words that stop me in my tracks, ... [with their] clock-stopping mesmeric call."
Rob McLeod, Canadian Bookseller: "Leap[s] out at the reader and grab[s] hold of the gut... full of variety, bite, and hard-hitting imagery."
Events 2016–2017 (See also Recent Events.)
August 28, 2016, New Westminster, BC: Newest Reading Series, Originals, 1:30 pm.
June 26, 2016, Maitland, Nova Scotia: Gallery 215, 8247 Hwy 215, Nova Scotia launch of Lizard Love: Artists Scan Poems by Susan McMaster.
May 14-October 1, 2016, Ottawa: "The White Show", Gallery 200, curator Maryse Maynard, featuring collaborative works with poet Susan McMaster, choreographer Cathy Kyle Fenton, artist Roberta Huebener, and composer Carmen Moore, 200 Crichton St., at the Ottawa School of Dance, vernissage/performance 14 May, 4:30 pm.
May 11, 2016, Barrie, Ontario: "Crossing Arcs: Gift to be Simple", poetry-music performance with Susan McMaster and composer Barbara Dyck for piano and spoken voice, with readings by Roger Bell and Dawna Proudman, Barrie Manor Senior Living, 340 Blake St., 7 pm. Sponsored by the Alzheimer's Society of Simcoe County.
April 2, 2016, Peterborough: Literary Salon, poetry readings by Susan McMaster, Blaine Marchand, Betsy Struthers, Lea Harper plus open reading, 1:30 pm.
January 26, 2016, Ottawa: Tree Seed Workshop "Hard Editing", 6:45 pm, Black Squirrel Books, Bank and Sunnyside.
Recent Anthology Publications
50+ Poems for Gordon Lightfoot (Old Brewery Bay, 2014), ed. Fred Addis.
Global Poetry Anthology: Montreal International Poetry Prize (Véhicule Signal Editions, 2013), ed. Mary Dalton et al.
Jack Layton: Art in Action (Fourfront, 2013), ed. Penn Kemp.
Whiskey Sour City (Black Moss, 2013), ed. Vanessa Shields.
Desperately Seeking Susans (Oolichan, 2012), ed. Sarah Tsiang.
Our Lakes Shall Set Us Free, ed. Roger Nash, intro. Margaret Atwood (Scrivener, 2012).
Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives (WLUP, 2012), eds. Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl.
I Feel Great about My Hands and Other Unexpected Joys of Aging (Douglas & McIntyre, 2011), ed. Shari Graydon.
>2: An Anthology of New Collaborative Poetry (Sugar Mule 2007), eds. Sheila E. Murphy & M.L. Weber.
PHOTOS Line 1: France, 2007 (ph: Marty Gervais); outside the National Gallery, 2009 (ph: Ian McMaster); With Penn Kemp, Gallery 101 (ph: Gavin Stairs); reading at TREE, 2013 (ph: Pearl Pirie); with mother, Betty Page, 2009 (ph: MG); Kingston Writers' Festival, 2013; Geode Music & Poetry (ph: Alrick Huebener). Line 2: Newfoundland, League of Canadian Poets AGM; Random Acts of Poetry with Jack Layton (ph: IM); with bill bissett, AB Series (ph: Adeena Karasick); in Nova Scotia, 2014 (ph: IM); with Paula Quick at Cube Gallery, 2015; with manager Stephane Sauvé at Glebe Meat Market, 2008 (ph: AH); with Geode Music & Poetry, 2000 (ph: Graham Thomson). For information, and hi-res images and permission for use, contact Susan McMaster. Also check Facebook.
I am grateful for support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the
Ontario Arts Council, the City of Ottawa (RMOC), the League of Canadian
Poets, and the Writers' Union of Canada.
This website is hosted by the National Capital Freenet, a community-run, non-profit organization. This page last updated 14 July 2017 by SM.