George Mason University – Susan Tichy

Susan Tichy is a poet who lives for part of each year in a hand-built cabin in the foothills of the Sierra Mojada/Wet Mountains in Southern Colorado. As a former war protestor and wife (now widow) of a Vietnam combat veteran, she has written extensively on war and its consequences. Her books include The Hands in Exile, written from her experiences on the Golan Heights in the 1970s, and A Smell of Burning Starts the Day, which recounts a relative’s role in the US occupation of Tarlac Province in the Philippines, as well as her own travels in Tarlac under the Marcos dictatorship. Her most recent books are Bone Pagoda, a meditation on Vietnam, and Gallowglass, which takes its title from the Gaelic gal-óglac, a foreign soldier or mercenary, and meditates on the fragile boundaries between private and public grief and on the disruption of the natural world by violence and warfare.

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Her fifth book, Trafficke, due out in 2015, tracks her family history from 17th century Perthshire, through a transported prisoner of war, and thence into two hundred years of slave-owning in Maryland.

Knowing Susan’s interest in war’s aftermath, Alec Finlay asked her to bring her experience living in a wild, high place into dialogue with Sweeney’s flight into Glen Bolcain and life of self-exile. The resulting conversation appeared on Alec’s Sweeney’s Bothy blog in 2013.

At Sweeney’s Bothy, Susan meditated on contemporary constructions of solitude and its meanings–including the literal construction and placement of a bothy.

Susan’s residency is sponsored by George Mason University, where she has taught for twenty-five years in the Master of Fine Arts Program. Her work has been recognized by numerous awards, including publication in the National Poetry Series and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Among her former students are winners of prestigious first-book prizes: the Yale Younger Poets Series and the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American poets. In her years of teaching, Susan has worked with returning combat veterans, children of veterans and children of dictatorial regimes, as well as peace workers and refugees from conflicts across the globe.