Monday, January 14, 2008

Can Poetry Save a Life?

BRUNSWICK - Poet, cancer survivor, minister and psychotherapist, Susan Deborah King will read from her third collection of poems, One-Breasted Woman on Monday, January 28 at 7 p.m. in the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library. The poetry reading and book-signing is cosponsored by Gulf of Maine Books and the Community Health Information Partnership (CHIP) of Curtis Memorial Library, Mid Coast Hospital and Parkview Adventist Medical Center.

King's poetry bears witness to a soul’s transformation in the wake of a cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy. During and after her illness, King wrote poetry as she came to grips with "how having breast cancer had altered my life and my priorities and had shifted my spiritual perspective." She found the act of writing a means of dealing with her terror and emotions as she faced mortality and disfigurement. In her work, she is consumed with outrage at the possible systemic causes of her disease; she holds the earth and beloved people close as she contemplates her end; she connects with and feels the suffering of others. King envisions a transpersonal figure emerging, a "one-breasted woman," who is possessed of a powerful and passionate vulnerability. Her publisher describes her poetry as "utterly alive: vivid with fear, heightened awareness, anger, tenderness, sorrow, playfulness, and even joy." She hopes that those who share her poetry will feel less lonely in their own journeys.

Showing how it’s done,
he perches right before me
on a bare spruce branch,
bold as brass. Though his breast
has a black mark on it,
he throws his head back
and with a quivering throat,
opens beak, sends out
his clear, trill-finished phrase.
From “Song Sparrow”

Susan Deborah King taught writing at the University of Minnesota, SASE, and the Loft. Formerly a Presbyterian minister and psychotherapist, she leads retreats on creativity and spirituality. She is founding director of the Literary Witnesses Reading Series at Plymouth Congregational Church. She has published two previous poetry books: Coven and Tabernacle: Poems of an Island . She lives in Minneapolis and on an island in Maine.

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