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Featured Poet:  Suzanne Nielson

About the Poet:

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 University.    


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. 

Read more of our interview with Suzanne here.

January, 2009

Volunteer Work
Howard Schultz’s suffocating attempt was
not successful.  The police were called,
as was the Fridley Fire Department,
thanks to Mrs. Opsal who shared a wall
with Schultz and had for 17 years. 
Most astonishing finds on behalf
of the fire department were the closet
full of red kettles and boxes of bells
that Schultz presumably stole off
the Salvation Army over the years. 
DNA proved differently.  Mrs. Opsal was not
whom she claimed to be, and poor Schultz’s body
was found buried among the kettles revealing a
prominent odor that eventually caused Opsal
to hire a Florida defense attorney.

Intricacies of Dollar Gifts
Hosta and Lady Tulip visited Big Dollar on
Christmas morning in search of a special gift
for Christiansen’s Chihuahua.  Low and behold
they were able to find Hello Kitty galoshes in extra
small, something that they knew would bring a smile
to the little dog’s face later on that evening. 
With a coupon they walked out spending 63
cents, tax included.  In an envelope they dropped
37 cents in hope of finding a red kettle
before it was too late.

Violating Prohibition
Miriam met the city council with disturbing news. 
Her neighbors on both sides of her doublewide were
indulging in too many pills and liquor, to the detriment
of watering their houseplants with 3.2 beer. 
As a result something strange was happening
in their bay window; the plants were nearly
arrested for indecent exposure but the neighbors
did some fast-talking and the police left without
a citation being issued.  Miriam wanted
to get the last word.

The Bittersweet Taste of Poison
Red Thomas sold McCain memorabilia outside
the corn palace at a drastic reduction due to 
Tom Petter’s recent lock up.  After attending to
his one and only customer, Randy Kelly, who
bargained for the bucket of bobble heads at a
ridiculous price Red drank chloroform
and went to sleep for a long long time.

The God Notion
Marigold and the old man tried on
the idea of God after becoming disenchanted
with poetry
until that night
Vachel Lindsay spoke to them from
the heavens bellowing that being a trader
was worse than shacking up with Elvis.

Earning High Marks
In a matter of 22 days Bush
will be back in Texas,
infiltrating a sporty suburb
while the Obamas travel
room-to-room burning sage
and waiting to be crucified.

O Death!
Shel Mecklin exonerated Christ
at his last supper while toasting
pig’s feet and pickled eggs. 
When Yolanda asked him for his
autograph Shel had this to say:
O Death!
right before slicing

his wrists diagonally.