Literature 6-16-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Susan Stevens Chambers

This week's poem, "The Way of Crickets" by Susan Stevens Chambers, was selected by Marian Haddad.


The Way of Crickets

No change in cricket’s tenor
when boots crunch
or dog barks.
They eat the dark,
sound constant as summer.
They ignore lightning flash
on southern ridge.
When the wind shifts
their chant never modulates,
always remains three paces
behind, never closer,
never warm,
never individual.


For 29 years I squeezed my love of writing around a very demanding law practice. I never had enough time to write. Last year I retired early, taking up mediation. This frees me to write 10-20 hours a week. I’ve completed two poetry manuscripts, a chapbook, and finished a play. I have a novel in progress. Throughout my law career I concentrated on poetry. I create new poems relatively quickly; do my revisions in spare moments. I attend local poetry writing retreats two times a year, and occasionally attend writing conventions, which revitalize me. Three years ago my daughter and I challenged each other to write a poem a day for one year. We alternated assigning subjects or forms and gave ourselves permission to write the worst tripe. We found, of course, that we got some extraordinary poems. I have around 350. The best part of this exercise: I find writing poetry comes more quickly and is a more natural process for me.


Susan Stevens Chambers: A “Lawyer Poet” seems a bit Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: the lawyer states things in the most detailed form possible, the poet pushes language and tries to be brief. But there is a common thread—both professions love words. Among my literary publications are some unusual venues: Minneapolis Regional News; UU Minister’s Publication; Minn. Law and Politics Magazine; Family Law Forum-a magazine for divorce attorneys; The Legal Studies Forum “Off the Record, an Anthology of Poetry by Lawyers”. I do poetry in schools in Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Iowa. I have presented poetry, copyright and publishing contract speeches in Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Utah, Florida, South Dakota and Wisconsin. I do presentations at churches, Kiwanis, senior citizen and poetry groups, Weber University in Utah and Minnesota State University, Mankato and just about anywhere someone wants to hear poetry.