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|Featured Poet: Suzanne Nielson|
Suzanne Nielsen, a native of
St. Paul, Minnesota, teaches writing at Metropolitan State
University. Her poetry, fiction and essays appear in
literary journals nationally and internationally; some of these include
The Comstock Review, The Copperfield Review, Mid-America Poetry Review,
Foliate Oak, Identity Theory, The Pedestal, Word Riot
and 580 Split. Nielsen was recognized by storySouth’s Million
Writers Award in 2005 for her notable story, “Fists for Hands.” So’ham
Books released her first collection of poetry titled “East of the River,”
in December 2005, a collection of short fiction titled “The Moon Behind
the 8-Ball & Other Stories” in 2007, and will release her new
collection of poetry titled “I Thought You Should Know,” in
2009. Nielsen holds a doctorate in Education from Hamline
When did you start writing poetry?
As a child obsessed with rhythm and rhyme. I grew up with Seuss. By the time I was a teenager I was writing poems as song lyrics, then I started to branch into a narrative form of poetry that I still am fascinated with today.
Your poetry has a distinct feel, almost as if a slightly skewed observer was telling a story. Do you recognize this a "your" style", and if so, did it develop consciously?
This is an interesting question and one I am not often asked; here's a
brief scenario of the skewed narrator: for a long time, well into my early
forties, I wrote poems like many poets, mainly from a first person point
of view. One day I woke up and recognized something impertinent in the "I"
voice that nearly repulsed me. I began re-reading the poets and poems I
admired most, to include Jared Carter's "The Purpose of Poetry," and
suddenly I had a most important breakthrough that changed the course of my
writing. I noticed I was approaching poetry from tunneled vision, and I
immediately started to create poetry that had a beginning, middle and an
end. Most importantly with this recognition I let go of the first person
narrator and grabbed hold of the unreliable narrator, or "skewed
narrator", if you will, to tell a story with less self consciousness. For
me it seems to feel more honest in an art form.