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Northern Swim: Poems

by Maxine Susman

Northern Swim cover

The poems in Northern Swim grieve a beloved sister's death during other losses of the pandemic, framed against havoc in the human and more-than-human worlds. But among poems of American malaise and climate change you'll also find Florence Griswold, godmother of American impressionists; the fashion designer Alexander McQueen; Eve's secret daughter; Elgar's chamber music and the Do Rights lead guitar. Though the poems are often elegiac they celebrate pleasures—“Snowshoeing at Seventy,” a newborn grandson, museum-going, desserts with family and friends, an exhilarating swim in an icy lake—what offers resilience and lures us ahead: “I won't let the bear get all the berries.”

Praise for Northern Swim

Maxine Susman has learned over the decades how to share the world with the bear who “each year…comes closer,” and in Northern Swim, she teaches the reader how that can be done. These poems fearlessly explore the intimate world of growing older, of illness and death, and the broader world of history and the political, while reveling in love and in memory. Susman is a poet at ease in the natural world—the trout pond, the beach, birds, animals—with an environmental slant and an eye attentive to detail.

       —Jessica de Koninck, author of Lois Marie Harrod, author of Cutting Room

When Maxine Susman’s beloved sister’s breast cancer returned after fifteen years’ remission, little did they know that a pandemic quarantine would force them to hold hands through an open bedroom window: “I would have sat shiva for you” are the words that echo throughout this collection. These elegies entreat us to remember many who died premature deaths, especially from human causes during the turbulent years of 2020–22, causes ranging from the war in Ukraine to climate change to mass gun shootings. The deceased remembered in this volume “could have lived decades more.” Susman’s collection “sits shiva” for all of them, and yet is permeated with forward movement, not stasis: hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, apple-picking, singing, and especially eating. Susman’s persona shares many desserts—sweet potato pie, Breton cake, butterscotch pudding, olallieberry pie—with loved ones, making this a collection that is much concerned with sustaining human lives.

       —Mary Ann B. Miller, founding editor, Presence Journal & Professor of English, Caldwell University

Please order this book through your favorite online retailer
Northern Swim: Poems
ISBN: 978-1-933974-58-3 / $16 US

© Ragged Sky Press