Termination Dust

Poetry by Susanna Mishler
ISBN: 978-1597099707
Size: 9x7
Binding: Tradepaper
Price: US $18.95

Termination Dust

by Susanna Mishler


In the high latitudes where Susanna J. Mishler has trained her eye and temperament, sunlight is precious and absolute. Its winter absence, its summer return, the very increments of solstice and equinox are far more sharply drawn than in our milder, vaguer climates. We feel its northern brilliance in her every line. In one of the poems in this magical volume, ‘A welder’s / hammer strikes on slag and uncovers / a bright new seam,’ which might serve very well as a figure for Mishler’s own poetic achievement. She works with a bold instrument; she pays meticulous attention to the elements of a ravishing, damaged, stern-but-fragile world; she uncovers real beauty in the linkages. And makes real beauty too.

—Linda Gregerson

It’s easy to forget that gentleness is its own form of brilliance, but this lesson abounds in Susanna J. Mishler’s welcome debut. Well, ‘lesson’ is too rigid a word. In Termination Dust, we return to the poetic line as that unit that takes measure of the human heart even as it reaches into the margin’s icy blank. This lyric measure, this ethic of Mishler’s line, doesn’t treat of the human condition as if it is symptomatic of error and in need of cure. It celebrates the mild fever her poetry also causes—a heat that eases thought and opens it so that thought again becomes feeling’s necessary home. Mishler’s poems, each one of them in their fine craft, do this work: her lines capture those moments we have let go astray—somehow like a child who is lost without knowing he is lost—and coaxes them back into meaning. It is subtle work, often humorous, always necessary, this reminder—every line’s bright and gentle hint, that it matters, all of it, life and those living it.

—Dan Beachy-Quick


"Down Home Poems" in the Anchorage Press

An interview with Susanna Mishler in Hothouse Magazine

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Afterlife: Ursus arctos                                            

She bares her teeth in recognition.                                                     

Her skull halves meet in a suture that flows
like a meandering river, and

she without her skin and you
without yours are red cousins.                                  
If she snaps her jaws, you’re
standing too close;

she’s nearsighted
and may knock you down 
for a closer look.

If she claws you open she’s searching
for the forests you swallowed.

Relax.  If you die, then

she’ll cover you with leaves
and protect you.


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Susanna MishlerSusanna J. Mishler's poems have appeared in numerous journals, such as The Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, and Kenyon Review Online. She holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of Arizona in Tucson, where she served as a poetry editor for Sonora Review. She's the recipient of a Peter Taylor Fellowship in Poetry at the Kenyon Review Writers' Workshop. Susanna is a founder and curator of the Synergies Live Reading and Performance Series in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. In addition to her literary pursuits, Susanna works as an electrician.


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Events listing on Susanna Mishler's website