Susan Thomas

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Among Angelic Orders (forthcoming from Fomite Press, 2014)

The stories in Among Angelic Orders revolve around Molly, Walter, and their extended family, harassed by the distant and not-so-distant past, by the future, by this world and the next. Six-year-old Molly is the victim of family togetherness in “Washington Heights, 1952.” In “The Willing Club,” ten-year old Molly confronts a child with a talent for creative malice. “Breakfast with Marilyn” has teenaged Molly, a dancer and bulimic, sharing Saturday breakfasts with a movie star who frequents the same coffee shop. Other stories bring in aging parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and an aged great-grandfather. In “A Small Thing in a Long Life,” Molly’s saintly grandfather confesses his jealous obsession with his wife’s dreams. “Among Angelic Orders” brings Molly to a party where the other guests are no longer among the living. Many of the stories are set in New York City throughout the last century, but some take place in more exotic climates. In “Knock and Enter,” a middle-aged Molly answers her farmhouse door to familiar strangers. In “Formerly Fat,” Molly’s twin cousins move to the Fat Capital of the World to lose 400 pounds between them and become supermodels. Walter and Molly, in “Island Wedding,” combat the curiosity of gossips in a Bahamian marketplace. These are stories of mischief, longing, confusion, loss and the paradoxical nature of mercy that defines our human condition.

The Empty Notebook Interrogates Itself (Fomite Press, 2011)

The Empty Notebook began its life as a literal metaphor for a few weeks of what Susan Thomas thought was writer's block, but was really the struggle of an eccentric persona to take over her working life. It won. For the next three years everything she wrote came to her in the voice of the Empty Notebook, who, as the notebook began to fill itself, became rather opinionated, changed gender, alternately acted as bully and victim, had bizarre adventures in exotic locales and developed a somewhat politically-incorrect attitude. It then began to steal the voices and forms of other poets and immortalized itself in various poetry reviews. It is now thrilled to collect itself in one volume.

Last Voyage: Selected Poems of Giovanni Pascoli , co-translated with Deborah Brown and Richard Jackson (Red Hen Press, 2010)
These poems, co-translated by Susan Thomas, Richard Jackson and Deborah Brown, represent the first appearance of Giovanni Pascoli’s (1858-1913) poems in English translation.

The first section of the book includes some of Pascoli’s brief lyric poems, many of them displaying his innovative use of image narrative. We see scenes of country life in his village near Barga, Italy, in the Apuan Alps, at the end of the 19th century. We see the aurora borealis, chickens, donkeys, women hanging laundry, the new railway and men crushing wheat.

The second part of the book consists of three somewhat formal narrative poems set in classical Rome and Greece.

The book ends with a long narrative sequence, an exciting and poignant re-imagining of Odysseus’ famous tale told from the perspective of an old man. The aging hero falls asleep by the fire with Penelope and dreams a final voyage, in which he reassembles his old crew and visits the scenes of his earlier adventures: Circe, the Sirens, the Cyclops, Lotus Eaters and Calypso.

Voice of the Empty Notebook (Finishing Line Press, 2007)

This chapbook was a finalist in both The Center for Book Arts and Finishing Line Press contests. Part of this chapbook was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Runes.

Three poems from Voice of the Empty Notebook won the Iowa Poetry Award from The Iowa Review, (“The Empty Notebook and Code Alert”, “The Empty Notebook and Denial”, and “The Empty Notebook Interrogates Itself”).

State of Blessed Gluttony (Red Hen Press, 2004)

According to Midwest Book Review, "With subject matters ranging the gamut from fairy tale to dire murder, madness, sumptuous repast, textured history and much more, State Of Blessed Gluttony invites the reader to devour each new free-verse contribution with a fresh appreciation for a wry spin put on seemingly commonplace occurrences. Snow White in Exile: Mother, I dream of dragonflies / and insect wings, the furry undersides / of bats. I dream of poison figs / and silver spiders. I dream of you / in your tower, stirring potions / to preserve your famous beauty. / The little men don't know / that every time I let you in / it's not because you trick me, / but that I hope you'll take me home. (December, 2004).

This collection won the Benjamin Saltman Prize.

The Hand Waves Goodbye (Main Street Rag, 2002)

The publisher printed this chapbook as a result of their 2001 chapbook contest.

Several of the poems in this collection won prizes from Tennessee Writers’ Alliance, (“Saturday Morning at the River Run Café” and “Brassai Photographs”), Glimmertrain (“Sea Cure”), Delta Review (“French Toast”) and Atlanta Review (“Dear Ulysses”).

Selected Works

Short Story Collection
The characters in Among Angelic Orders are harassed by the distant and not-so-distant past, by the future, by this world and the next. They live their lives in a state of ambivalence, longing for something they have lost, while hanging on desperately to what they have. The tone of the collection is funny, sad, loving, sarcastic. These are stories of mischief, yearning, confusion, loss and the random nature of mercy that defines our human condition.
Poetry
"Quick, open these pages and meet The Empty Notebook-the enduring nothingness out of which all is generated, the negative capability on which artists thrive, ecstatic world-wanderer, canny literary imitator, driven self-obsessive-as vivaciously, and audaciously, imagined by Susan Thomas. Pleasures await." .
-Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Incredibly original... by turns ironic, tragic, comic... paradoxical gusto of pathos
-Richard Jackson
Full of meaty poems and wry surprises... Thomas’ reach is broad and daring.
-Maxine Kumin
This delightful—and long overdue—collection shows Susan Thomas at her delicious best.
-Jane Shore
Poems in translation
“The major portion of this ambitious translation is devoted to Pascoli’s revisionist version of Homer’s epic; in it Odysseus does not return home, slay the suitors and embrace his wife. Instead, he falls into a deep sleep, sails past Ithaka and is forced to revisit his former route, complete with heart-stopping adventures and profound grief. The narration is deft, elegiac, and intensely lyrical, making this book a pleasure to read.” .
-Maxine Kumin