“Everyone needs poetry,” says Susan McMaster. “We need poetry for the important things – birth, love, hope, fear, loss, grief. Like the blues, [poetry] takes pain and fear and anger and somehow changes them into something bearable, even transcendent.”
As the author or editor of some two dozen poetry books, anthologies and recordings, Susan takes on those “important things” and finds in them the loaded detail that makes a poem resonate. Her poems may seem deceptively simple but, as writer Dave Margoshes points out, “…there’s nothing deceptive about their craftsmanship or their honesty. The best ones ease up to you, then sting.”
Susan’s sensitive and personal collection Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry, the Ottawa Book Award, and the Archibald Lampman Award. Her recent book, Paper Affair: Poems Selected and New, showcases poems written over the past two decades.
“McMaster’s poetry is like prayer,” writes The Canadian Book Review Annual, “it centres, calms, and encourages contemplation in a busy world that usually doesn’t wait for anyone.”
Susan is one of the founders of the feminist magazine Branching Out, and she organized the Poems for Peace millennial project that delivered art-wrapped poetry to all the Members of Parliament and senators on Parliament Hill. As a performance artist, she melds spoken word with music, and she has performed
with First Draft, SugarBeat, and Geode Music & Poetry.
Susan is currently president of the League of Canadian Poets. Based in Ottawa, she spends as much time as she can in the Gatineau hills and on the Bay of Fundy, where she takes her inspiration from loons, lakes, rocks, and trees – “All the great Canadian stuff,” she says.