Susan Rich is the author of six poetry collections including, Blue Atlas, Red Hen Press and Gallery of Postcards and Maps: New and Selected Poems, Salmon Poetry. Rich is co-editor of Demystifying the Manuscript: Creating a Book of Poems. She’s published in the New England Review, Poetry Ireland, and The Slowdown. She has received awards from PEN USA, The Times Literary Supplement, and Peace Corps Writers. Her fellowships include an Artist Trust Fellowship from Washington State and a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa. She has worked as a staff person for Amnesty International, an electoral supervisor in Bosnia Herzegovina, and a human rights trainer in Gaza and the West Bank. Rich lived in the Republic of Niger, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, later moving to South Africa to teach at the University of Cape Town on a Fulbright Fellowship. Rich’s international awards include a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland and a residency at Fundación Valparaiso in Spain. Other poetry honors include a 4Culture Award, a Seattle CityArtist Project Award, a GAP Award, and a featured reader in the Cuirt Literary Festival in Galway, Ireland.

2024 Jack Straw Alumni Poetry Series:

“The remarkable poems of Blue Atlas chart an expansive life. Rich describes an imperiled young adulthood that culminates in a coerced midterm abortion. Blue Atlas exquisitely performs the way trauma—the utter loss of self-determination—can turn a life to seawater, to drift, to a space outside of the circumference of longing, where poetry lives.”
–Diane Seuss

Crepe Myrtle

I should have been a crepe myrtle, resistant to pests and disease—
should have been known by my nicknames: Purple Magic, Ebony Flame.

I’d have passed my life as a hip resting spot for cardinals, larks, and bluetits.
Could have been a pine siskin—an elegant flash of wing. Been a star

magnolia, close to extinction in the wild, child world—
sexy as a fragrant fringe cup drinking it up along riverbeds. A salmon-

berry. A lady fern. I should have kept the baby. All the best flowers,
single blooms. All the boy birds, yellow bellied sap suckers.

Could have nested in the cavity of a blue atlas; become a field
note, bilingual, old; fought romantic battles with stinging nettles—

avoided mildew and armored scale. Now I night jasmine,
I honey suckle, I myrtle—requiring little water or microbial soil.

                                                Schmitz Preserve, West Seattle, WA

2011 Writers Program (curator)

2005 Writers Program

Sound Clips
  • Side-by-side black and whtie photos of Maliha Masood and Susan Rich
    2005 Writers Program: Maliha Masood & Susan Rich