Susan Miller is a non-tenure track faculty member who has been at Rutgers since 2005. She has been writing since she was very young, and studied with Marie Ponsot for 11 years after completing graduate school. In her words, Ponsot "taught me by the observation method and that's also the way I teach--by observing technique, content, and style rather than critiquing them." Her book, Communion of Saints was published in 2017, and her poetry has been included in the anthologies Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion, and Spirituality and St. Peter's B-List: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints. She won two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg awards for poetry and her work has been presented on BBC4 Radio.
Genre(s): Poetry, Creative Nonfiction/essays, reviews
Classes taught at Writers House: Introduction to Creative Writing, Poetry, Advanced Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Independent Study in Revision
Tell us three interesting things about yourself that most people don’t know.
I grew up in a town of less than 500 people. I have traveled to 5 out of the 7 continents (so far). I took 7 years of Spanish courses in school and can speak passable Spanish.
What’s the first job you ever had?
Aside from early babysitting work, my first real job was in a bookstore. I was in charge of the poetry section.
What are you currently obsessed with?
Mexico, drag, and memento mori.
What’s your approach to teaching writing?
I try to help students understand what they've communicated in a way that is objective, and then support them in developing into the writers they want to become. I'm not a critic of their writing as much as someone who can help them see their own work more clearly. (And I try very hard to make good readers out of them.)
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
My very beloved teacher, Marie Ponsot, said that anyone can find ten minutes out of the day for writing. She had six kids, and she did it while she was raising them, afterward, even after she had a stroke and battled aphasia. She taught very much by example, and I appreciate that about her.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to that you can recommend and why do you think it is worthwhile?
I started The Savage Detectives this summer before going to Mexico City (which is no longer called the Districto Federal, as it is in that book.) Bolano is a really engaging and complex writer, and I am slowly going through section two (which has a new narrator every page.) The Mexico City in the book is different from the Mexico City of today, but it's a terrific historical document as well as an account of that country and its literary communities during the 1970's (and into the 90s.)
I've also recently picked up several books of poetry by Gina Franco, Molly McCully Brown, and Philip Metres, three Catholic writers with wildly different styles but common concerns about the powerful and the powerless.
Where can we find your work?
You can find my work here.