Spotlight series #31 : Susanne Dyckman

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


I’ve long held that one’s politics are woven into one’s poetry, that the poem’s subject does not need to be overtly political to reveal a belief. In both the formal and informal definition, politics is about how we interact with others, what goals and values we hold in those relationships. I am always interested in a conversation with (or meditation on) the “other”, whoever or whatever that “other” might be. Poetry is my practice in the language of response. Sometimes I glance sideways, that is, turn away from something in order to move more closely to it, but there are some events that ask to be addressed directly, for the poem to both embrace and resist.

“All the eligible children have been returned”


When a child is taken
When the children are taken away
When you must have the child
When the child’s belly is empty
When your belly is empty of child
As trees continue to grow, too many shades of green
As birds continue to sing, so many songs
I see a geode that must be split
I want a hammer to break what’s bound
As the earth opens a crack
As steam gathers and rolls
Untenable pockets of heat
When water spills over my body
Where there is salt on my skin
It is molten, the hammer is small
When the children are taken
When I hum the unknown
When childhoods are torn
As the fissure moves upward
When the hammer slams
When the bruise is not blue
When children are returned
When the child will not be returned
As the fissure will not be closed
As we walk when we talk around it
As a child is held by her dimpled hand

Susanne Dyckman’s most recent collection of poetry is A Dark Ordinary (Furniture Press Books). She is also the author of equilibrium’s form (Shearsman Books) and three chapbooks, Counterweight, Transiting Indigo, and Source. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, and a collaboration with Elizabeth Robinson is forthcoming in Colorado Review. She has co-edited both Five Fingers Review and Instance Press, and curated the Evelyn Ave. reading series. She lives and writes in Albany, California.