GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Susan Jordan moved to Devon a few years ago, having lived in London for the greater part of her life.
She is glad to have escaped from the city and enjoys being near to Dartmoor and the sea.
She read English at Oxford and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.
Susan has always written both poetry and prose. Before joining Jo Bell's online poetry group '52' in 2014 she saw herself mainly as a prose writer, but since then poetry has played a greater part in her writing life. She has had poems published in a number of print and online magazines and is an active member of the south Devon poetry group Moor Poets.
In November 2016 she self-published a collection of pieces from her blog,
The Belated Writer
138 x 216mm
£9.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 11 SEPTEMBER 2017
In A House of Empty Rooms Susan Jordan writes about her family and Jewish background, about love and loss, and about the lives of famous people. Some of the poems are serious and elegiac, while others are ironic, blending pathos with wry humour. We are rarely far from the presence of death, but there is lightness here too.
"A House of Empty Rooms is filled with deftly crafted, nuanced poems which explore the meaning of family, of mortality and change with tenderness and integrity. Susan writes, ‘I didn’t say my heart/ was a house with all its doors wide open/ or that it was you who’d opened them’ but that is exactly what these poems achieve."
"Susan Jordan conjures scenes from childhood that bring you in and seat you at the family's table. There's a lot of grief in this finely worked collection, but it's tempered with an inner humanity. A rich book, which rewards a careful reading."
"Susan Jordan's first collection roams over many subjects and the poems are sharply observed, poised, and unfold pleasingly and coherently. Whether she's speaking of breaking breakfast taboos or of lost or unrequited love, the poems crackle with acerbic insight."
A House of Empty Rooms
Aldous’s Last LSD
Though almost blind, he saw
more clearly than we want to see
the cracks in our pretences,
history’s endless failures.
What he didn’t see so well
were ordinary things: road signs,
sharp corners, small gestures,
expressions not caught in words.
The end didn’t come as a surprise:
Laura beside him, music playing,
tablet taken to guide him to the light
his lack of vision couldn’t hide from him.
Slowly the capacious mind fell through
its net of words into the space beyond.
He didn’t hear Kennedy had been shot.
Not graduates yet, we sat holding hands,
you in your flowered shirt, me with eyelashes
like stiff-legged insects, both as uncomfortable
as Benjamin in his snorkelling gear, eager
to learn more of life – for life read sex –
too gauche to find another’s gaucheness funny.
He wasn’t like you, but the way
he bumbled into Mrs Robinson’s room,
his seriousness, the intensity in his eyes
reminded me of you, a clever boy
who was still learning how to be a person.
I couldn’t emulate Elaine, even less
the one who twirled those tassels on her nipples,
but wished I could have been that kind of girl,
equal to everything life threw at her.
What I remembered after was the music –
Simon and Garfunkel’s sweet close harmonies –
our palms sweating into one another.
In these fruit you caught the light
that escaped your other paintings:
four apples on a crumpled cloth,
three large ones close together,
the fourth smaller and apart.
That sole apple, was it you
busy herding us into a family,
or my father, shrinking away
inside the world of his paper;
or was it one of us children
preferring our own misery
to your comfortable half life?
You and my father are gone
and cold years of silence
have barred me from my brother.
I am left with the apples.
You wouldn’t pick them but took home
the broken ones. The sad heap
drooped between us on the splintery log,
keeping us apart. You’d made tea
for both of us, carried my flask,
laughed when I said it wasn’t fair.
I saw grass transformed to blue
through your camera’s eye, heard
the birds’ song through your silence.
You gave me this place, shared
your love of its wild inhabitants:
orchid, campion, those white stars
I couldn’t name. Beyond woods
evening softened the sea; behind us
the embrace of green hills. We smiled
at one another. I didn’t say my heart
was a house with all its doors wide open,
or that it was you who’d opened them.