“. . .[Suzanne] Parker engages the specifics of one individual’s story in order to create a universal sense of empathy in her readers: challenging us to see ourselves in each poem, to see the people in this narrative as more real—more whole, more fractured, more human—than any news story.”
Available in print.
Suzanne Parker is a winner of the Kinereth Gensler Book Award from Alice James Books. Her poetry collection, Viral, which was written in response to the suicide of Rutger’s University freshman Tyler Clementi, is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was included on the American Library Association’s Rainbow List of Recommended Books of 2013. Her poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, The Boiler, Hunger Mountain, Drunken Boat, and numerous other journals and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. She is a winner of the Alice M. Sellars Award from the Academy of American Poets and was a Poetry Fellow at the Prague Summer Seminars. Suzanne’s creative non-fiction is published in the travel anthology Something to Declare. Suzanne is the managing editor at MEAD: A Magazine of Literature and Libations.
“With expert deftness, Parker makes flat the concepts of good and evil, showing compassionate humanness in dark places, and unbelievable light in hardness.”
“Viral is an extended elegy to Tyler Clementi, and a bold effort to understand his world and the people in it. The book is audacious in scope and imagination, complex in its empathy and rage.”
“[Suzanne Parker] has a wonderful ability to question her subjects empathically. That is, she puts herself in the place of the other, no matter how alien or uncomfortable. She uses her lyric talents to give voice to this empathic questioning.”
“Viral, by Suzanne Parker, both embodies and outdistances its form: an extended elegy for Tyler Clementi (the Rutgers student whose privacy was brutally invaded by his room-mate and sent out on the web, precipitating Tyler’s suicide). It exceeds the elegy form and becomes a shocked, beautifully anaphoric invocation— a hopeless nonstop summons, a call-out to the lost one— to bring him back. These are relentlessly tender, impossibly empathetic poems— which echo and clarify the body of grief— “…the need to pass/through the impassable and land/in a space I fill, exactly.” The emotional tension is unbearable, but sustained, just as the human heart goes on, after unimaginable loss.”
“In language that is elegant, tender, and uncompromising, Suzanne Parker tells a story of violation and injustice not ripped from the headlines, but lost in them. Rage, as in all good art, is immersed in craft where it smolders still hot enough to scorch the reader. Parker turns tragedy into art— not for sensationalism, but an honoring of innocence, and love.”
“One boy leaps from a bridge into a river, and the ripples from his fall ring out to encompass a nation. All that remains unspoken in the reportage— the sorrow and compassion and anger— is given eloquent voice as Suzanne Parker documents another tragedy that challenges our political experiment. Grief-stricken and abiding, Viral addresses our ongoing struggle for democracy.”
“I admire poems that quarrel— without preaching or redundancy— with social injustice, with injustice, period. Part outrage, part elegy, these spare and exact poems move me deeply.”
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