Susan McCaslin

Heart Work

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Over the decades Susan McCaslin’s body of poetry has gravitated to openings where contemplative poetry and social justice kiss. Heart Work explores the non-dual regions of “the educated heart” where heart and mind, feeling and thinking conjoin. Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and John Keats whirl together in liminal and earthy places where beliefs and concepts open to unknowing and mystery. Her breathtaking union of minimalist, Zen-like poems paired with her husband’s powerful photos in “Cariboo Fires, 2017,” and her sequence on living during the pandemic, “Corona Corona,” offer hope by tying the cosmic to the particular and the everyday.

This luminous book is a poetic mandala, a circle of compassion that embraces the planet, and illuminates the particulars of sparrow, snail and spider. Susan McCaslin follows the poet’s vocation to “dream, receive, and chant the broken world.” The poems speak most movingly to our times, addressing coronavirus, and lamenting a beloved forest region devastated by wildfire. These are poems that soar with the kite bird “disappearing into the wind,” but dwell also with the lowly, the “monkish cow” who “sentinels a spindly grove.”
Hildegard of Bingen, Keats, and Julian of Norwich enter Susan McCaslin’s reflections to enrich our sense of these times and their meaning. McCaslin has evidently lived with the mystics’ writings for a long time and they appear here, not as though they are of the past, but as though they are presences who have been with us all along. One feels that each of the three visionaries would have treasured this exquisite book, would have welcomed McCaslin into their companionship, and joined with the reader in heartfelt grief and praise as the poet honours our planet in all its beauty, tragedy and hope.
~ Barbara Colebrook Peace, author of Duet for Wings and Earth

Susan McCaslin is a Canadian poet from Fort Langley, British Columbia who has published fifteen volumes of poetry, including her most recent, Into the Open: Poems New and Selected (Inanna, 2017). She has recently collaborated with J.S. Porter on a volume of creative non-fiction, Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine (Wood Lake, 2018). Her Demeter Goes Skydiving (University of Alberta Press, 2012) was shortlisted for the BC Book Prize for Poetry (Dorothy Livesay Award) and the first-place winner of the Alberta Book Publishing Award (Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award) in 2012. That year, she initiated The Han Shan Poetry Project in a successful effort to help save a rainforest near her home along the Fraser River in Glen Valley.

ISBN 978-1-77171-402-0
84 pages
6 x 9
Now Available

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