Woman At the Crossing

Coming October 2023!
In the poem that opens her debut collection, Susan Okie recounts an evening in the anatomy lab. Here we witness the depths of her curiosity toward her subject’s inner workings.

When I tugged on the flexor digitorum tendons,
her fingers partly closed and her thumb
crooked in. I seemed to see the two of us
as if from outside, and could no longer
name the tendons. I felt my fingers
from inside her hand.

What to some might feel like harrowing proximity, Okie delivers, in astonishing verse, with wonder and even intimacy. To be sure, Woman at the Crossing is the work of a seasoned practitioner.

Praise for Susan Okie’s Poetry

Woman At the Crossing

Woman at the Crossing reads like a continuous, lyric portrayal of a life of intense and diverse experiences written by an unflinching existentialist, a spiritualist of absence. For all the rough and heart-rending events chronicled here, the reach for consolation is not through any convention of belief or sentiment, but in the stark, imagistic captures of travail gathered from the passionate witnessing of human survival within creation’s natural splendors. The poet is possessed of a mind-wide lens of attention and, throughout, there is a subtle music interfused within each line and skillful phrasing that shows a lavishness in description and memory. The collection amounts to a touching, yet ofttimes sardonic memoir written in alternatively terse, then loping strophes, with finely described scenes, eccentric characters (some her own family members), and the sweep of experiences in North America, England, and Africa. Yet, for all the human dramas here, lamentations themselves are sere, the losses registered with a postmodern impassivity like dates disappearing on a gray-screen. For the passion is in the poet’s figurative eloquence, the reach of similitudes, transcendence in the purification achieved in accomplishing a personal and tough-minded poetic vision.

2023 Off the Grid Poetry Contest judge, Garrett Hongo

Let You Fly

“Steady, surprising, lit with human tragedy and wonder. Nothing is overplayed, the poems
never rigged for meaning but born nuanced and troubled, doing what poems do best: they keep opening, they win our trust.”

Poet Marianne Boruch

Woman at the Crossing
“Susan Okie, a doctor, is a former medical reporter and science editor for The Washington Post. As she demonstrates in her first full-length collection, she’s also a deft and sensitive poet. “Woman at the Crossing,” released this week, is filled with sharply realized, deeply humane poems like this one.”
Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, author of the Post’s popular weekly newsletter,”Book Club,” included a brief review of “Woman at the Crossing” in his October 6 newsletter, and reprinted “Two Mothers,” one of the poems in the book.

Selected Poems

  • The Rains Begin in Western Kenya

    The Rains Begin in Western Kenya

  • Metamorphosis


  • On Lake Victoria

    On Lake Victoria