Poems of discovery and loss pull the magical from the mundane
Keep and Give Away was selected by Terrance Hayes as the inaugural winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize sponsored by the South Carolina Poetry Initiative.
In her first full-length collection, Susan Meyers guides us through her examination of life's ordinary moments and the seemingly ordinary images that abide in them to reveal the extraordinary. From minutia to marriage, crumbs to crows, nothing is too commonplace to escape her attention as she traverses terrains of childhood, loss, relationships, and death. Mostly lyrical and often elegiac, the poems of Keep and Give Away move along the rifts between the past and present, the lived and desired. The dominant emotions of the verses are deepened by observations rooted in our natural world, where birds are "yeses quickening the air" and the sky can "lap you up, and up." In the book's final section, marriage poems turn to fishing and gardening for their truths, contemplations that recognize the realities of a world governed by luck, imperfection, contraries, and—most of all—love.
Susan Meyers is the author of Lessons in Leaving, a chapbook selected by Brendan Galvin for the 1998 Persephone Press Book Award. Her poems have appeared in the Southern Review, Crazyhorse, and Tar River Poetry and have been featured online at Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. A longtime writing instructor, she holds an M.F.A. from Queens University of Charlotte. Meyers grew up in North Carolina and currently lives in Givhans, South Carolina, near Summerville.
"Whether Susan Meyers describes the cry of a loon, a boat trip into a swamp, or casting a net, the images in Keep and Give Away are striking and resonate with the book's central paradox of loving and letting go. Though Meyers does not turn from painful experience like her mother's decline, lingering death, and the black hole of its aftermath, her dominant impulse is to celebrate and, as she says in one poem, 'learn to look for the overlooked.' This is a first collection full of finely crafted poems—free verse and poems in form—that are alive and radiantly detailed, pleasurable and poignant."—Peter Makuck, author of Off-Season in the Promised Land and Costly Habits
"As I read the final poem of Susan Meyers's first full-length collection Keep and Give Away, I felt again the resonant ending of 'Shelling: Ars Poetica'—'the last one leaves you wanting more.' In poems as skillfully crafted as they are inspired, Meyers holds tight to the tenuous things of this world, polishing and polishing each until it glows. This is a stunning body of work."—Cathy Smith Bowers, author of A Book of Minutes and Traveling in Time of Danger
"Keep and Give Away offers us countless resounding, delicate notes. We might fall, submit to loss, were there no art such as this to keep us upright in the world."—Terrance Hayes, author of Wind in a Box and Hip Logic, from the foreword