Tag Archives: Aimee Suzara

Bridgewater International Poetry Fest: Day 3

Geez Louise. Another pretty cool day at the Bridgewater Fest. Keeping in mind the nature of this festival — that two poets share an hour onstage in two separate reading locations, and that this goes on for basically eight hours — you’re bound to miss something, so you have to rely on your newly-met colleagues in the art to find out what they saw and liked. I did not arrive until the afternoon session, so if anyone reading wants to add insight on the morning poets, please add in your comments.

The first poet I saw this afternoon was Mark Fitzgerald. Author of one previous book, he was reading new material that was strong, resilient, and had a unique beauty I’m finding hard to describe. He doesn’t bring you a storm, he brings you the sound of leaves starting to scramble across a forest floor, and then he brings you the wind, and then sound and light and rain–and the storm of the poem is assembled in your head. Hoping not to misquote here, I believe he read a line that went something like “The song was winter not knowing it wanted to end.” And in a long poem for his son about setting out into the world like a buccaneer onto the unsteady sea, he wrote, “Understand the tug, and you will find kind winds.” I cannot wait until this guy’s manuscript finds its way into a book.

Following him was Suzanne Rhodenbaugh, who read a memorable poem about a Texas woman intent on getting some Scottish broom transplanted from Virginia where she saw it to her property, enlisting the help of two Virginians of somewhat Scottish names to help her.

Performance was a key element in the presentations of Aimee Suzara and Lady Caress, who wow’d the afternoon crowd. Later, down in the Eagle’s Nest, I found the poetry of Lynn Martin particularly haunting. In the next session, it was great to hear Leah Green read her poetry, including a line in a poem entitled “Once Home,” that went something like “My friend could feel the maples not being there / even in the dark…” What a beautiful and concise way to begin to speak about absence. I was happy to find out afterwards that this poem, and another moving poem she read entitled “Venison,” were both in the copy of the journal Ecotone that I had picked up the day before from Anna Lena Phillips, who seems to be able to be in multiple places at the same time during this Festival–reading her own work, attending readings, manning the Ecotone table, and speaking on the editorial process.

This has all gotten my on-demand mind conjuring up all sorts of wacky ideas–wouldn’t it be cool if when going to a conference like this you could pick a selection of your favorite poems from the contributing poets and have an instant epub generated to take home? A kind of pay-per-poem deal, where you can take home with you a little bit of every writer’s work you enjoyed the most, and where each writer can go home with a little extra money? A kind of Make-Your-Own-Bridgewater-Fest-Anthology? Don’t nobody get frightened, it’s just my mind talkin. And knowing that all the tech exists for this kind of thing to be done.

On to Sunday tomorrow. My only real concern is that I get home in time to watch my beloved Patriots play in the AFC Championship without missing a snap — or a poem.

Bridgewater International Poetry Festival: Day Two

The festival opened up a bit today with some great informal post-reading discussions. Poet Susan Facknitz closed up the morning readings and in the time remaining helped lead and facilitate a wide-ranging discussion on the role of poetry and its possibilities in the age of internet memes and the 140-character tweet. After Stephen Corey’s talk about making every line count, he found himself in much the same facilitator’s role, as the gathering of poets seemed intent on continuing the early round-table of topics. I think all the different readers and different styles naturally cooked up some of these questions, and both Ms. Facknitz and Mr. Corey were more than up to the task of guiding these talks.

The “international” element was in power mode–

  • the morning opened up with Skype coverage from India of Susil Mandal and Indranil Acharya;
  • Filipino-American poet Patsy Asuncion read with energy, depth and passion in the morning down in the Eagle’s Nest, followed immediately by
  • Ukrainian-American Nicole Yurcaba, who read poems from her forthcoming book which focused on her her family’s history in the Ukraine and America. Both of these poets projected the authentic presence of their work in a way that was utterly personable and perspective-shifting for those in the audience.

After lunch, we were treated to a reading by Albert Russo, calling in from Paris, France.

Definitely a bracing and exciting day. And by definition in a festival packed with concurrent readings, I missed half of the events of the day! including a writer’s workshop held later in the evening by Aimee Suzara, who contributed to both of the aforementioned discussions about a minute after arriving at the college, after her flight from Oakland, CA. Whew! For those of you who saw some of the other poets, please feel free to comment on your experience. I have heard that each of the readings was captured on video, and I hope this will give us the opportunity to view the writers whose readings we missed in person.

Tomorrow I’ll be missing the morning due to engagements with an entity called Family. Among the poets I’ll miss is Angela Carter, one of my favorite Virginia poets and a great presence at our local group’s monthly meetings. Lucky for me, the afternoon of Day Three looks to be packed with quite a few poets I’m looking forward to meeting, several of whom you’ll find on the Bridgewater “Meet the Poets” page on this site.


Readings: Bridgewater Fest Poet Aimee Suzara

Over the next week I’ll be posting information on the poets who will be reading from their work at the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, Jan 15th-18th. 

Aimee Suzara will be reading her poetry on  Saturday, January 17th, at 2:30pm, and also leading a writer’s workshop, “In this Skin: Writing the Body” on Friday, January 16th, at 7:30pm.


Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer. Her mission is to create, and help others create, poetic and theatrical work about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change. Her poetry appears in her debut book, SOUVENIR (WordTech Editions 2014) and collections including Phat’itude and Kartika Review. Her multidisciplinary theater work, A HISTORY OF THE BODY, received several grants and commissions including ones from the National Endowment for the Arts and East Bay Community Foundation. A YBCAway (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) and Spirited Woman Fellowship (AROHO Foundation) awardee, her work has premiered at the Thick House, CounterPULSE, Berkeley Repertory Theater, and been selected for the Utah Arts Festival, One Minute Play Festival, United States of Asian America, APAture, and others. As a performing poet and educator, she has graced stages and classrooms nationally, and she has collaborated with many artists, including Deep Waters Dance Theater. She was a two-time Hedgebrook Resident, and an alumna of VONA (Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation). Of SOUVENIR, Luis Rodriguez said, “Aimee Suzara is a deep chronicler of our hopes, dreams, pains, and future…we need these poems more than ever.” http://www.aimeesuzara.net

From SOUVENIR (WordTech Editions 2014)


At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

Oddities. Body
parts wrapped to be sold
as souvenirs.
Cold fingers
peel mummy layers
undoing the stitch.

It is invasive,
a sort of jigsaw-
suture the way
Navajos and Igorottes,
Rajasthanis pose
with elephants
at the artificial
Pueblo Cave Dwelling.
You note the backdrop
of painted sand pillars;
that Disneyland
cirrus cloud sky.

Wool jackets rub
loin cloths. Feathers
tickle Victorian necklines.

Hands sew together
what does not belong.
One day, it will heal
into something unrecognizable
with the parts of a person:
a teratoma
with teeth, hair and nails.

Come upon these
measured feet,
this list of names
without warning.
Come from thousands of miles
to witness the exhibit
of the exhibit. Come
to participate in
something, for
your own story does not
allow you to participate.

The candidness of naked
eyes, bare chests devoid
of goosebumps. The smoothness
of distance. The shadows
of the uncaptured. Something
tells you to stop looking,
but you are spun: sutured
to your subject.