Slate Roof Press

The Wild Language of Deer by Susan Glass

Writing from the Broken Places: Northern Hope Poetry 3


Price: $17.00
Letterpress cover
Original woodcuts by Hyde Meissner
Hand-sewn with special die-cut binding

Braille Edition


Audio CD


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Winner of the Slate Roof Press Chapbook Award/Elyse Wolf Prize, The Wild Language of Deer reveals an impassioned sense of belonging, both to the world of here and now, but also to a fluid, echoing, mythical world out of time. Out of these pages come the stamping deer, the singing birds, the fingertips running over Braille and flute keys.

June Bedtime Story

In the wild light before cataracts, God
was marigold seed sprouting
from between Mother’s fingers.
My first nursery
to water and smell.
Together we tamped the earth,
our forearms and knees touching.
She stood, and I—child god
at ear level with patchwork knees—
listened to a wheelbarrow on stone,
pulled by Mother hands, earth-gloved and honest,
the flapping burlap apron of Mother lap,
the snips, the trowel.
God became dwarf plants,
and plastic six-packs,
and spider-web roots clinging.
And the seedlings begat evening, smelling of onions.
I crouched in the basin our knees had made,
unsure how seed graves could spawn life,
afraid of leaving them to their dark work, afraid
of running away.

Reviews and Interviews

Something almost otherworldly hovers at the edges of these poems, a quiet attunement that brushes humbly up against the big mysteries. -- The Boston Globe

Look for Susan's interview on our SRP blog: "My poems start in my corporeal sensory mammal body first, through ears or nose or fingertips. ... as I write a poem I discover it has tectonics, layers, darker places within its rock."

The poems in Susan Glass’ The Wild Language of Deer are earthy and musical with whimsical surprises everywhere: “She’s all melody and sighs at this work”; “swallows squeak in the pussy willow tree”; “I was a girl / a spry and quivering column of air….” Woven through the fresh, vivid imagery is the emotionally honest story of a young blind girl’s growing up to become an intrepid woman; the parents who shaped her; and the earth, sky, and birds that sustain her. This book, with its exquisite woodcuts and a poem in Braille translation, will subtly reorient your relationship to our world.

— Alison Luterman, author of In the Time of Great Fires

One step into the stilled silence of Susan Glass' The Wild Language of Deer, and we are aware how acutely the next step might break us. Of course, there is no erasing the footfall or unhearing the snap ... of these poems "that will never domesticate, that welcome / this wild language back…" And so we must change, embrace our lives as these poems do with the ever-shifting sounds and textures of wrens and flickers, lost flutes and sighing cellos, half-lit pepper trees and fogged potato fields. Glass' poems map a journey from the child's "wild light before cataracts" to "the long dusk our waking is," the speaker's arrival a kind of absence, a "dream, with beautiful alarm / of those I left behind." But along the way Glass reminds us how the senses round into words, how sound and touch work themselves into language—and how they change us, sometimes painfully, but also profoundly, magnificently so....

— Nils Michals, author of Gembox and Come Down to Earth

The poems in The Wild Language of Deer, by Susan Glass, wake up all of the senses with a feast of intriguing textures, scents, flavors, sounds, and visual images: “a curry comb’s / rough tongue,” matted roots that “smell like sea urchin shells,” “cumin and cinnamon,” “mint and lemon balm,” “the cactus wren stuttering / his broken / motor song,” the tail of a Bewick’s wren “conducting, / a black-barred, white-tipped baton / curved over his back and flicking side to side.” Filled with compassion, humor, and attentiveness to nature, these poems are a delight to read.

— Lucille Lang Day, author of Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place, coeditor of Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California


Susan Glass's new chapbook, The Wild Language of Deer, won the Elyse Wolf Prize from Slate Roof Press. Her poetry has appeared in Snowy Egret, The Broad River Review, Birdland Journal, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Honoring Nature: An Anthology of Authors and Artists Festival Writers, and elsewhere. A California resident, she held a residency at the Cummington Community of the Arts in Massachusetts and received her MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After teaching many years at San Jose State University and West Valley Community College, she now co-edits the Blind Californian Magazine for the California Council of the Blind, and the AABT Briefs newsletter for the American Association of Blind Teachers. She and her husband John share their home with her guide dog Omni, whose combined work ethic and silliness ensure that all three remain irreverent, active, and loved.