59 vividly haunting poems by Susan Sheppard
6” x 9” 95 pages
Susan Sheppard (1955–2021) was “Black Dutch,” meaning that she was descended from the less than 850 Shawnee Indians who remained east of the Mississippi River after the other Shawnee (during the “Trail of Tears” removal) were forced onto reservations out west in the 1830s. Susan, along with others in the Friend family, was a direct descendent of Shawnee Chief Big Thunder through his daughter, Bright Lightning, whose name was anglicized to “Anna Friend.”
When I first read the poems of a young woman from Appalachia, thirty years ago, I knew she was one of the best poets I’d ever met. I never forgot the brooding witchcraft, the mystery and magic in her work. There’s no writer like Susan Sheppard. She writes like a woman who has nothing to lose and I place her at the top of poetry’s canon. It is the world’s fault that a Sheppard poetry book is not in our libraries. Every page of Glamoury is rich, resolving to bring truth to life with language smoldering, ready to burst into flame. I read this book and feel lucky to know a poet who keeps poetry alive. This is the book of the year.
—Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
Within the pages of Glamoury there lies a mystical terrain where angels and Druids, witches and granny women, even fairies walk between dimensions, earthly and not. Eyes glow orange inside indigo nights, trees are bearded hags and the dead take form and gesture. It is a place where a child contrives to survive a father hounded by addiction, a mother who is indifferent and the crippling poverty that ensues. The language in this collection is so lush, the Appalachian lore and landscapes so vivid. Susan Sheppard has created an “other” world where water spills its cold diamonds over her hands, the moon sheds white blood and crows wear the dark clothes of a prowler. Trust me reader, this book will hold you spellbound, shake you to your bones, leave you beguiled and breathless.
—Kari Gunter-Seymour, author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year, Poet Laureate of Ohio
Things are never quite what they seem as you travel the unsettling paths threading this astounding and intriguing book. Composed primarily of narrative poems, Sheppard has created a world where shadows take on more substance than most would believe. Of course, this is not surprising for a writer whose bio states she’s a paranormal investigator. Even the poems betokening a quieter domesticity harbor a dark undercurrent, a sense of menace that breathes verisimilitude into the whole of the collection.
Though the storytelling takes precedence, there are arresting images throughout testifying to a fine attentiveness. In places “Cicadas whir / like wind-up toys over the lawn” while elsewhere we find a stream within which “crawdads floated like gallstones in a jar.”
Glamoury is an accomplished volume that should prove the crowning achievement for this fine poet whose literary forebears must surely include Mervyn Peake, H.D., and Margaret Atwood. I can think of no higher praise.
—Marc Harshman, Poet Laureate of West Virginia and author of Woman in Red Anorak, winner of the 2017 Blue Lynx Prize.
Susan Sheppard was a prolific poet from Parkersburg, West Virginia, whose work had been published in over 100 magazines. A descendant of the Blackfoot-Saponi and Lenape-Shawnee tribes, Sheppard wrote poetry imbued with her unique brand of Appalachian mysticism for over 40 years. In 1998, she was awarded a Poetry Fellowship from West Virginia Arts & Humanities and in 2005 she received the Edgar Allan Poe Memorial Poetry Prize. She was named first runner up for the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in 2019. Her poetry chapbook, Balefire, was published in 2015 by Crisis Chronicles Press. Sheppard was also the author of four non-fiction books, one novel and two very popular card decks. She taught and facilitated the Sacred Way Poetry Group in Parkersburg for many years.
Publisher’s note: As this book was being in the process of being published, on April 19, 2021, Susan Sheppard died, leaving the copyright to her daughter Scarlet, to whom this book is dedicated. Thank you to Scarlet, her father Roger, and Susan’s friend Yun Wang, for their help and support in making this publication possible.