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Susan B. A. Somers-Willet


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
96 pages, 6 x 9

Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

Roam explores the loss of a parent to cancer and the resulting uprootedness that loss can create. In searching for a sense of home and belonging, this collection of free verse looks both inward and outward, to landscapes rural and urban, and speaks in haunting and musical lyrics. Unexpected voices emerge from history and myth—those of Joan of Arc, Ophelia, Circe, Daedalus and Icarus, and Achilles’ mother, Thetis—and mingle with the author’s own voice. From the naming of the first woman, Eve, to the naming of the first European child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare, these characters seek full houses and, instead, discover empty ones. In a voice that is southern, feminist, and unflinching in its assessments of the self, Susan B. A. Somers-Willett treats personal loss without ceremony or nostalgia. The poems of Roam look homeward while acknowledging that one can never return to such elusive comforts. Her lyrics reveal the dangers and delights of an ever-changing, ever-traveling sense of self.


Susan B. Anthony Somers-Willett teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities. Her poems have appeared in The Madison Review, Beloit Poetry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cream City Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. In 2005 she was selected as the winner of the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize.


“Susan Somers-Willett’s Roam is not so much a debut as a laying of claim: Poetry is her birthright by virtue of a spiritual bloodline that makes her the child of Whitman and Rukeyser. On these roads of our country, she tells us, the soul is a beautiful thing that can, after so much horror and mischief are unearthed, grid the land with compassion. Championing gnosis rather than decrying lost innocence, her poems balance wit and sobriety, lyricism and the spondees of truth. I am thrilled by the joy she conjures, and the grace of her accomplishment.”—Khaled Mattawa, author of Zodiac of Echoes