Susan Utting

Susan Utting
Susan Utting

Susan Utting’s most recent collection, Houses Without Walls (Two Rivers Press) was featured in the Independent on Sunday and has been widely and warmly reviewed, with a poem from the collection included in the best single poem category of the Forward Book of Poetry 2007. Also in 2007, she was winner of the Peterloo Poetry Prize.

Her work has won many awards, including a Poetry Business Prize for the collection Something Small is Missing (Smith/Doorstop Books). She has won the Berkshire Poetry Prize, was a winner in the Academi Cardiff International and has twice been short listed for the Arvon Poetry Prize. Her second collection, Striptease, was published in 2001 by Smith/Doorstop Books.

Susan runs poetry workshops country wide and has taught poetry & creative writing at Reading University for many years. She was appointed Community Laureate for Southern Arts’ Year of the Artist 2000/2001 and received the 2005-6 Creative Writing Fellowship from Reading University’s School of English & American Literature.

She is the founder of Reading’s acclaimed Poets’ Café, a member of Thin Raft Poets and Late Shift Poetry Ensemble. She has read and performed her poetry at arts venues and festivals including Edinburgh Fringe, StAnza at St Andrew’s, Ledbury Poetry Festival, and for the Poetry Trust at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2007.

To a Woman at the End of an Affair

Forget Delilah: remember all the lovers you will leave,
forget the few who will leave you, remember then
the smell of just washed hair, the squeak between
somebody else’s fingers, the towel cape, clipped
at the front like a bunch of paid-off cheque stubs.

Feel the tug of the comb, the teasing through
to smooth, the cold curtain across your face,
the wait. There is a pleasure in the sound of sharp steel
cutting wet hair, like a guillotine through heavy paper
or your mother’s pattern scissors cutting taffeta.

This is what we do: we close our eyes and dream a little,
wake and shake our shingled heads, our bobs and urchins,
smile and thank reflected faces, nod at our accomplices
and walk away relieved, of something; light-headed’s
not the word for it, exactly, simply there’s a lightness

in our tread, a softening of shoulders, neck, our arms
swing easier, our naked foreheads smooth, our eyes –
remember this – each time, our eyes become a little clearer.

Susan Utting in Houses Without Walls Two Rivers Press 2006

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