Reviews of On Earth...
"I read Susan Delaney Spear’s first collection of poems (Beyond All Bearing) while grappling with loss and the fear of further loss. I had a brief but graceful conversation with the author, and that momentary conversation was a light of hope for me. Without hesitation, I purchased this newest collection as soon as I saw it was available. As I suspected, the very first poem broke me like a spade breaking new ground. Susan Delaney Spear is gifted in ways almost beyond bearing. Thank you."
-Anonymous Amazon Reader
"Nettled by contingency and burnished by pain, Susan Delaney Spear's poems are firmly, unmistakably terrestrial, though marked by an otherworldly hope--for mercy, redemption. A poet of faith, she understands that in some fundamental sense what happens here on earth (and the ellipsis is everything here) is as it is in heaven? To this, and to her heartfelt verses, I say amen."
- David Yezzi, author of More Things in Heaven: New and Selected Poems
Reviews of Beyond All Bearing
"Peaceful celebration and profound mourning, injury and sustaining revelation, faith and astounding beauty--they all live in Susan Spear's perfectly balanced poems. . . . Each page grips the reader with precise and commanding language in lines that compel us to resist the urge to look away from what we 'don't want to see' while commending us to moments of grace and consolation to help us live 'as we wander through this glacial grief.' . . . Beyond All Bearing brings us stunningly fresh, resilient, and deeply moving poems of daily life, love, and inconceivable loss that will not soon be forgotten."
--Ernest Hilbert, Author of Caligulan
"There could be no greater honor to Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing than that Susan Spear, our first graduate, has now also published the first full-length poetry collection by any of our alumni. It is a memorable debut. Over the past decade, Spear has refined an extraordinary ability to address both the quotidian and the sacred, transforming them into reflections of each other with a power of parable rare in any age. Such is her art that throughout Beyond All Bearing the ordinary becomes more and more transfused with the divine, and the divine even enters into daily living. Despite moments of great pathos and humor, however, this movement of God and Man towards each other is anything but easy or obvious. Like all strong poets, Spear deeply understands the gulf between reality and love, and insists on including both, from the body of her own son, 'a thin young man / belt around his neck,' to a God who 'is slow / and slowly tenders me the strength to go.' The book thereby comes to embody both a closely observed texture of reality along with great leaps of faith, conjuring the very strongest poets in this tradition. Only a true poet in this vein could render even grief 'beautiful beyond all bearing.'"
--David J. Rothman
Reviews of Learning the Secrets of English Verse
“The editors cover all the essentials of the English verse tradition in laudable detail and discuss its roots in other traditions. The book is astutely organized, with each of the fifteen chapters—including an incisive chapter on free verse—providing a discussion of a particular form and its history, examples from the past and present, student attempts, and an exercise. Taking inspiration from the legendary teacher, translator, and poet Robert Fitzgerald, the editors advance a clear yet marvelously nuanced discussion of scansion in one of their fine “inter-chapters,” along with a running and welcome analysis of metrical and other compositional effects both in the great poems they have chosen as examples and in student work. Learning the Secrets of English Verse offers a comprehensive curriculum for teachers and students of poetry, useful also to the practicing poet who might need a refresher in the rich, living resources of the art.”
-Daniel Tobin, Professor of Writing, Literature and Publishing, Emerson College, Winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Julia Ward Howe Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, author of Blood Labors and On Serious Earth
“Meter and rhyme are sources of pleasure and vehicles of memory—the basis of popular song as well as poetry. As with music, we must practice our art in order to achieve the freshness and spontaneity we desire. I cannot think of a better textbook to help teachers and students alike in the practice of this glorious art. Rothman and Spear bring decades of experience as teachers, poets and students themselves, offering splendid exercises in form. They have worked to make this book lively, useful and affordable, and for that I am deeply grateful.”
-David Mason, Professor of English Emeritus, the Colorado College, Colorado Poet Laureate 2010-14, author of Ludlow: A Verse Novel, and co-author of Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry
“Rothman and Spear present a rigorous curriculum that teaches the craft of poetry through a systematic examination and practice of the major English meters and verse forms. Under their guidance, students hone their craft while studying the rich traditions and innovations of poets writing in English. Suitable for high school students and beyond. I studied with Rothman in graduate school and went through this course with additional scholarly material. This book will help students develop a keen ear for the music of the English language.”
-Teow Lim Goh, author of Islanders