Local Poet Nusbaum to Share New Collection at Chautauqua Authors’ Hour

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Susan Dworski Nusbaum thinks reading poetry can be like finding a friend.

Chautauquans may have already found a friend in Nusbaum, who has lived in the area since 1998.

Nusbaum will present her new poetry collection, Open Wide, the Eye, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Author’s Alcove.

She’ll read as part of the Authors’ Hour program, which is sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends and held weekly from Weeks One to Seven. Today’s Authors’ Hour also includes a reading from memoirist Bob Hirt.

Open Wide, the Eye is Nusbaum’s second poetry collection after her debut collection, What We Take with Us. Both books were published by Coffeetown Press, which is based in Seattle.

Her newest collection is the culmination of 15 years of recording her experiences and feelings, and she said it was generated by an “attentiveness to the beauty of ‘ordinary’ things in the world.”

Nusbaum said her time at Chautauqua has had “an enormous influence” on her work through its active writing community and its opportunities for writing workshops.

She’s taken numerous workshops at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and participated in several of the preseason Chautauqua Writers’ Festivals. She said working with notable poets such as Carl Dennis, Stanley Plumly, Tony Hoagland and Alicia Ostriker has been enriching for her as a writer.

Nusbaum started writing her poetry as an adult, but she said her interest in poetry was first sparked as a child.

“My mother introduced me to poetry at a very early age, transferring to me her own appreciation for the beauty and musicality of words,” Nusbaum said. “She read aloud from a variety of poetry collections, most notably a slim volume called Silver Pennies, edited by Blanche Jennings Thompson.”

She said she also learned from the greats, such as Carl Sandburg, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay and William Butler Yeats. She took a number of poetry courses in college, she said, which kept her appreciation of poetry alive.

But Nusbaum didn’t start writing her own poems until much later, she said.

With two published collections under her belt now, Nusbaum has made her mark as a poet. Knowing that she has two books of poetry out in the world is astonishing, she said.

“Who would have thought that at my stage of life I would have something to valuable to say to the world, that I would be taken seriously, and that I might connect with people from all over the country, both friends and strangers?” Nusbaum said.

Getting to read her work to her friends at Chautauqua will be a terrific feeling, she said.

“Sharing with Chautauqua audiences has always seemed like reading to family,” Nusbaum said.


The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.