INTERVIEW: Susan Dworski Nusbaum, Author of Open Wide, The Eye

Back at the start of June, we reviewed Susan Dworski Nusbaum’s captivating book of poetry, Open Wide, The Eye.

Despite being ultra-busy with a book tour to promote this fantastic collection, Susan managed to cram in answering a few of our questions.

What first got you interested in poetry?
I credit my mother for introducing me to poetry at an early age. She lovingly read poetry to me, transferring to me her own appreciation for the beauty and musicality of words. We had many poetry collections. One I remember most was a slim volume called “Silver Pennies,” edited by Blanche Thompson. Fairies and elves and goblins, the magic of stars and strangely shaped trees, the stories of sour old men and princesses…all touched my heart and imagination. The “greats’ were represented—Sandburg, Lindsay, Frost, Millay, Yeats, Teasdale—along with lesser known poets. It was my introduction into the vast world of language.

Open Wide the eye bookWhat inspired you to write Open Wide, The Eye?
“Open Wide, The Eye,” my second collection of poems, represents a record of my experiences over a 15 year period, generated by attentiveness to the beauty of “ordinary” things in the world.

Which of your poems is your favourite and why?
Choosing a favourite poem is like choosing my favourite child! These poems are my children…. I have no favourites.

What is your favourite poem, written by someone else other than yourself?
I have many favourites among the works of many gifted poets. I love the poetry of Stanley Kunitz, William Stafford, Galway Kinnell, Ruth Stone, Lisel Mueller, Laura Kasischke, Steven Dunn, Louise Gluck, to name just a few.

If you could ask another poet, alive or dead, a question, what would your question be and who would you ask it to?
Questions to poets would depend on specific elements of each work, how they determined structural outlines in order to best communicate sensation, imagery and message.

Have you ever written fiction? If not, why?
The “compression” of poetry has always interested me. I have never been drawn to writing fiction or longer forms, although I read them a lot.

Are the moments you describe in your poetry things you yourself have personally experienced, made up or a combination of both?
All of my poems are generated by personal experiences.

In the literary world, fiction is a great deal more popular than poetry. What do you think could be done to increase the popularity of poetry?
I think interest in poetry is on the rise. Notice the numbers of newly published poetry books. And the proliferation of MFA programs which produce good poets.

What would be your advice to other poets?
Advice to other poets…read, read, read.

Now you’ve released Open Wide, The Eye, what are you working on now?
I’m continuing to write about my world. I hope to work on another collection over the next few years.

Why do you think people should read Open Wide, the Eye?
People seem to be attracted to “Open Wide,” because the poems reflect their own emotions and sensations, often difficult for them to articulate. Reading new poetry can often seem as if one has “found a new friend,” one who can connect with the reader’s inner life.

Thanks ever so much to Susan Dworski Nusbaum for taking the time to tell us about her world and her poetry. We look forward to her next collection.

If you haven’t already and enjoy poetry, I highly recommend checking out Open Wide, The Eye.

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