26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist
A National Library Association Over the Rainbow List Recommended Book of 2013
“. . .[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 for her poetry collection Viral (Alice James Books, 2013), a book written in response to the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student, and other queer youths who suffered through bullying. Viral was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and was on the National Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List of recommended books for 2013. She is also a winner of Tupelo Press’s Sunken Garden Chapbook Award for her collection Feed (Tupelo Press, 2016). Her poetry has recently appeared in Barrow Street, Passages North, Tampa Review, Notre Dame Review, Diode, and Cimarron Review. Suzanne was a winner of the Alice M. Sellars Award from the Academy of American Poets and was a Poetry Fellow at the Prague Summer Seminars. Also a non-fiction author, her travel writing has been anthologized in Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing and published in numerous journals. Suzanne directs the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College in NJ and teaches in the MFA program at Manhattanville College, NY.
“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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