Susan Cowger-Slender Warble, Poetry

_The major problem with letting others define you is that it borders on idolatry. Your concern to please others dampens your desire to please Me, your Creator._ -Jesus Calling Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Cowger confesses she was the ‘black sheep’ in the family, not quite fitting into the mold of family vocations–nurses, pharmacists, sensible people. Instead, her first language was art, a calling that led to a BA in Fine Art (1977) from Montana State University and subsequent MFA in Poetry with a secondary emphasis in Art from Eastern Washington University in 1997.

Susan is a sculptor, visual artist (oils and watercolor) and a writer. What made her take the leap from two dimensional and three-dimensional work to words?

“Art is often abstract. I wanted to help people enter into the art, so I started writing little poems. It seemed to help,” she said.

Susan later founded Rock and Sling Press and Journal in 2004, a well-received publication in the world of faith writing. Editor and fellow poet Laurie Klein joined the masthead for many years and partnered with Susan in its mission. Rock and Sling’s operations were passed to Whitworth University in Spokane WA in 2010.

Susan has continued her creative expressions in the paths of writing, sculpting and painting and recently published Slender Warble, a collection of poems from Wipf & Stock’s Poeima Series.

The book’s back cover blurb explains the title.

“Within the bewildering paradox of suffering and beauty, we often miss the Invisible One. Never quite what you’d imagine, the nudge of his Presence can be mind-bending. More often, the Almighty gives no more than a slender warble. This collection is about finding the presence of God in spite of and because of the trappings that make us most human.”

The trajectory of the work covers four parts of Cowger’s own faith journey, beautifully summed up in the opening poem here. The arc of her writing includes sections in the book: In the Tunnel has poems that show how one begins to listen for God. Sections Between Two Hands, Is That You? and A Voice Clears, record the way one comes to faith, not in an instant but in a lifetime of awakenings.

Each section of the book begins with a “Weather Report” as she calls it, including the date and time of day, whether it’s early morning or dusk. They also set the tone for each section and frame the poems.

The theme of water weaves through the poems, looming as a powerful, pummeling force in a piece about nearly drowning.  Drink and thirst, floating and sinking, as well as the ocean feature frequently; water appears also as “silent drops of dew.”

Cowger’s signature style is punctuation-less, a remarkable feat for an editor and writer. When I asked her about the odd line breaks and spaces instead of periods or commas, she remarked, “It was intentional. I hope to redeem the current ways of communicating. We speak too fast, write in abbreviations, listen only half-heartedly.”

“My poems force the reader to slow down, read with care, pause at the end of each line and breathe. One must pay attention.”

“Light in the Woods” Susan Cowger

Cowger continues to pay attention in her studio in Eastern Washington and shares her art work and poetry online via her beautiful, new website. The tagline? “Art and Poetry are mirrors to see what you love.”

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit, view her work and more importantly, open the door to the possibility of poetry and listen for God’s “slender warble” in your life.

You can find Susan’s book HERE.

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To read more of my poetry book reviews and interviews, click HERE

Accompaniment {a #poem}

pexels-photo-414181
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Birds, their tones both winged and bright
Harmonize from branches out of sight
Know their parts, score memorized
Flash and zoom before my eyes.

Soprano, alto, second, bass
Throaty praises from branchy place
Echo, float, reverberate
A pause, then celebrate

Mornings’ rise first slow and quiet
Against dull backdrops now a riot
Their songs a span of treble and bass
Background my day, this hallowed space.

*****

The daybreak song of birds seems brighter and more clear than ever before. Have you noticed? I tried to to capture their music ((impossible)) by playing around with meter and rhyme. I hope the joy comes through the verses.

{{Also? I’m working on my second book, a self-published volume of poetry. Working title: “Hearts on Pilgrimage~a Poetry Collection.” Stay tuned & in the meantime, you can click HERE to read more of my poems.}}

January Bird {a #poem}

Where have you been?
Out of town like those who flee
our chilled clime and metallic skies?
Elsewhere, warming up your voice to
herald today’s sunrise with your song?
I welcome your morning melody
making its way to my ears,
stirring memories of other songs on
sullen, silver days when
your music was my only companion,
a balm for the emptiness at the edge
of my days.

 

65 is Just a Number {a #poem}

P_20180222_085138-1068896429-1545607297305.jpgThere is no statute of limitations on vision.

My old eyes register a darting messenger of
God’s blatant, creative joy. Watch the winged
creation hover in a web of air.
Spy a sleuthing intruder
snap-tapping its way
across the wood, tunneling
away and down the outside stairs.

No expiration (yet) for hearing,
cataloguing birdvoice and the
chipclacking of breakfast
at the feeder, the squeaking
insistence at the fountain.

Teach me to number my days, Lord,
to register the ways your wind
ruffles the tablecloth in the morning’s
gentle breeze, how cool, shortened
shadows signal this sea change
of a season rippling towards
quieter times.

May I live this calendar daily,
not ticking days toward the end
but aware and alive and about your
business, not counting lost hours, but
living into your addition, subtraction
multiplication, division, the only
math that matters.
c. Jody Lee Collins 2017

Cacophony {a #poem}

The chickadees are arguing
using their mad voices
to fight over the millet
and sunflowers–
Here’s a sweet ‘chirp’, there’s 
   an insistent, “cuh, cuh, cuh”
and another voice–“chick-a-dee, dee, dee.”

It’s a Bird Boardroom Brawl,
voices of different timbres and tempo
arguing about what’s on the menu.
They sound as if they’re starving, 
staking out their claim to dinner
like it’s their last meal.

Then zoom! they’re off
to another branch,
a new hiding place
as evening winds down,
and I wonder
did their mother send them
all to bed without supper 
because they wouldn’t stop fighting?

Ahhhh, they may never 
get that millet meal until morning
after all.
~~~~~
Photo: (very small) chickadee on the horizontal piece of wood