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.
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
Susan Okie’s full-length poetry collection, Woman at the Crossing, was chosen by poet Garrett Hongo as winner of the 2023 Off the Grid Poetry Prize, and will be published by Grid Books in October, 2023.
Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Bellevue Literary Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Cider Press Review, Little Patuxent Review, Delmarva Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals. A chapbook, Let You Fly, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Her poem, “Metamorphosis,” was featured as poem of the day on Poetry Daily, and poet Michael Collier chose her poem, “Perseid,” as winner of the 2012 Bethesda Poetry Contest. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.
Susan is a doctor and a former Washington Post medical reporter and science editor. She lives with her husband in Bethesda, Maryland. Woman at the Crossing is her first full-length poetry collection.