Poetry. Introduction by Binnie Kirshenbaum. In language that is bold, wild, alarming, and invariably lyrical, the poems of Susan Montez are marked by the beauty and power of unabashedly honest intimacy. Grief that emanates from what's been lost—love, time, marriage, daring, and possibilities—haunts that which remains. "I will not quip / about my love for you since no decree / awaits our sorry tale. That is, my life / is closer than my thoughts of you, and then there is a conclusion: Sorrow is the pleasure of the youth. The dead are ever-present." Cows die from the cold, the bombing of Dubrovnik is recollected, an electric chair is moved from one prison to another, a man is murdered by his two sisters, and Montez fears that the angels will take her newborn child. Her perspectives are truly original and unexpected and not without a wry sense of humor. She ponders her alcoholic husband dying in a car wreck, and at a site memorializing drowned sailors, she observes, "The dead never visit / the visitor's center." The title poem lays bare the effects of poverty and racism with the uncomfortable truth that is the darkest comedy of tragedy. Montez holds firm to William Carlos Williams dictum, "There are no ideas but in things." A formalism of style juxtaposed with tangible content written in a conversational tone renders Susan Montez's poetry all the more complex in ideas and unforgettable in its wake.
Susan Montez was born in South Carolina but grew up in Farmville, Virginia. After graduating from Columbia University, she resided, on an irregular rotation, in New York and Virginia. While pursuing her MFA at Brooklyn College, she worked as a corporate travel agent. The complimentary plane tickets reflect myriad landscapes of many, although not all, of the poems in her first book of poems, Radio Free Queens. The inspiration that travel lent to her poetry gave way to the pull of home and the influence of longing. Following a year teaching in the South Bronx, Montez returned to Virginia where she got married, taught high school, became a mother, wrote her second book of poetry, got divorced, moved back to New York, got tenure at Norwalk Community College, and abruptly quit writing poetry. Despite her editor asking many times for TEACHING SHAKESPEARE, Montez declared herself "done with all that." She filed the manuscript away. Radio Free Queens was published by George Braziller in 1994. In March 2016, Susan Montez decided she would go back to writing poetry and publish TEACHING SHAKESPEARE. Four days later, she died.Author City: NEW YORK, NY USA