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In spite of the lethargy brought about by the aftermath of lockdown, causing a torpor in the poetry circuit… and then a sort of sleepy unlocking which, for me, has been a long and puzzling affair, 2022 was a very good year for a poetry project, which is truly embedded in the core of my being as a poet. This is my cycle of poems La Loba Speaks for Wolf, which was released in February 2022 by the excellent Bx3, part of Burning Eye Books.

The publication date, March 31st, was timed to coincide with International Lobo Week when, in 2002, 11 captive-born lobos (known as Mexican wolves) were released into the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona for the first time since they were almost eradicated.

I have been writing poems for La Loba, the mighty and irrepressible wolf woman legend,, for a long time now. She is an archetypal character who has seized my imagination with a wolf-like grip! You might say she walks beside me and draws me back to my true nature which, in turn, draws me back to the foundational strength and peace we can find in wild places.

I'm lucky enough to count Dartmoor as my home. I’ve been around its tors and valleys for 30 years. A recent influence has been the photographs of Paul Harris from Glavind Strachan Photography. Paul is a moor man through and through. His photography of Dartmoor is , as it reveals the rugged and pristine landscapes in a new way, which is totally engaged… and enthralling.

Black-a-Tor Copse - Glavind Strachan Photography

Paul and I met up to hatch a plot to make a poetry film of Wolven, the first poem I wrote specifically for the La Loba sequence. Based on a wolf's howl, it was haiku-like, therefore short. We felt it would be a good starting point. On a cold (but not bitterly so) day in February, we met at Bench Tor at dawn. With the help of Paul’s innovative vision and his sensitive approach as a director, the short video (featured below) leapt into life.

Dartmoor Pony - Glavind Strachan Photography

The costume I wore for this wolven adventure was multiple layers of velour, tweed, fur and sacking and, in spite of this (or possibly partly because of it!) the whole morning is best described in three adjectives – affirming, exciting and fun. If you're a creative person who is need of inspiring new portrait photos, or an interpretive visual of a piece of work, I can't recommend Paul highly enough. As you can imagine, this wasn’t going to be the only time I would work with Paul. So… when the book was released and bluebell time came around, there was the ideal opportunity to mark all that blue and green with something less… well, furry!

I'd just completed my poem, The Forest Crier’s Call, which had appeared in embryonic form - just five fragments I placed at the beginning of the book as a tiny prologue, or ‘calling on’ song. In the true spirit of calling on, there was more to come and this little piece fleshed out into something which, I hope, has a longer reach and more impact. This Forest Crier piece is a thrown voice, as are all the poems in La Loba, so I bought myself a town crier’s hat, dressed myself as the antithesis of the town crier – the forest crier – and headed off to a bluebell wood near Okehampton to meet Paul. I replaced the bell of ye olde traditional cryer, with an etheric-sounding Koshi wind chime. I was nervous, as I hadn’t had time to learn the new lines of the poem properly, but Simon Williams, my partner in rhyme, accompanied us to the spot, where we recorded the piece. He was carrying a large whiteboard, with the poem written on it in broad felt tip. Here, in a totally bewitching valley of bluebells, a second poetry video was born. The experience could not have possibly been more magical.

These two videos were a really exciting development at the close of an eighteen month period, where I struggled with some physical health issues. Paul’s input into the project proved invaluable... and it has helped to keep the flame of La Loba alight.

I mustn’t forget my book launch – La Loba Speaks for Wolf in The Glade at Dartington, where Paul took some beautifully atmospheric photos and three of my creative colleagues and friends, Jade Moon, Kimwei McCarthy and Simon Williams, helped to make the evening unforgettable.

It doesn’t matter so much if a show you planned to do was put on hold for reasons of lockdown... then other distractions, if exciting new collaborations like my two wild and wonder-filled films emerge. Working with Paul has been an important landmark in my La Loba project… and a turning point. I hope to be stepping out into the woods with a new more resonant voice, and a poetry show I've been yearning to release for a very long time now. It will happen, before the bluebells are spread out over the valleys of the moor to dazzle us again.


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Following on from the woodland launch of La Loba Speaks for Wolf from Bx3, Burning Eye Books, I decided to join the Wolf Conservation Center fundraiser, Run Like A Wolf.

The idea was to raise support for this charity by running 3 miles a day throughout August... and to collect sponsorship for their wolf sanctuary in New York State. I'm not in a good position to run three miles a day, but I could definitely walk three miles a day, so this is what I did.

The good news is that, thanks to the generosity of my sponsors, I'm just about to send £185 in sponsorship money for the New York wolves and their exciting programme of breeding rare species, such as Mexican wolves to reintroduce them back into their natural habitat in New Mexico and beyond.

The front cover of my book carries a photograph of one of the Wolf Conservation Center's Mexican she-wolves (also known as a loba) in full howl. The poems in the pages are not only such a call to the wild, but also a call for rewilding. The cover price (£8) of each copy I sell, includes a 25% donation to the work of the Wolf Conservation Center.

Here's a video from the Center of one of their gorgeous Mexican wolves and a 'wolf bird' raven - looking for all the world like one of Aesop's fables.

To find more about my La Loba, check out my book page here: .

All in all, I'm proud to say that we've raised £295 for the Mexican wolves in the first six months of the life of this new poetry book of mine.

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Beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I will meet you there. Jalaluddin Rumi

I had a favourite t shirt with this Rumi quote printed on it. This was one of my favourite garments and I wore it until the letters faded so much they were indecipherable and my shirt was raggedy. Here's my poem, 'The Four Fields', which I wrote on a day of trial and tribulation.

The Four Fields

On a spring evening I find four fields in my heart. I walk into the first field

it is called Jeopardy. Then I walk on into a field of sadness.

This one draws me across in an irrevocable line into the third

where the sun is setting. A voice in here says this is The End.

But I see a fourth gate wide open with you standing beside it.

This is the field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing where we meet.

There are two reasons I'm prompted to write a post about this poem. The first is that it has just appeared as an Easter guest poem on the Acumen poetry website. This is a considerable honour.

The second reason is because it was almost accepted, previously, by another magazine editor, but that time I was asked to say something about what's behind the poem's mystery. This I decided not to do, so no publication happened for it that day.

Needless to say, I wasn't asked to explain the poem by Patricia Oxley, Acumen's sensitive and perceptive editor. However, .I wonder if people do find this one too mysterious and, also, if I can I rise to the challenge of saying at least a little about it? It may be useful to bear in mind, when reading this poem, that we do all have four fields, or chambers, within the heart and that in some very challenging time, we may need to encounter our deepest emotions in a stage by stage process. On the occasion of this poem, I found it useful to consider my changing approach to a thorny dilemma as journeying through these different parts of my heart and, consequently, give myself time and space to consider the full weight of the situation I was in. This is one of those unusual poems that came complete in its first draft. It never demanded any word to be altered, or any phrase to be rephrased. On the simplicity of its surface, it's literally an accurate poem, about walking (albeit trespassing) across four of the beautiful meadows which surround my home. This isn't my usual practise, but this was no ordinary day and I was in the mood for a transgression of sorts. We all have those days when we just need to get out of the house and walk somewhere absolutely peaceful. We are very lucky if Rumi happens to be about out there to step into the heart, hence, into the final three lines of a poem!

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How do poems start as fledgings and where do they go when they fly the nest?

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La Loba

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Trade Winds

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