This is a collection of poems that ranges widely through both the geographical and spiritual worlds. Susan Rich began her career as a human rights activist and Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. She has also worked in South Africa, Bosnia, Gaza, and as a program coordinator for Amnesty, International. Her poems are lyrics of empathy, discontent, and hope, unified by her "Cartographer's Tongue."

From an international medical and health perspective, some of the best of these poems are "Haiti," "The Woman with a Hole in the Middle of Her Face," "In the Language of Maps," "The Toughest Job," "The Beggars," "Sarajevo," "La Verbena Cemetery," "Whatever Happened to the Bodies," and "The Scent of Gasoline."


Susan Rich's poems are well crafted and immediately engaging. They draw the reader into a world of violence, callousness, and despair--yet a ray of hope arises from the despair. In one sense these are very personal poems, often revealing glimpses of personal narrative, as, for example, in "Spring Break," where she contemplates and considers her response to the lust of her Wodaabe hosts; and in other poems where she speaks of her adolescence in Boston and the loss of her parents.

In another sense these are poems that span the world of poverty and war and desperation. With a wonderful eye and an almost gentle lyric gift, she "tells it like it is," revealing through her own experience that hatred and misunderstanding affect the lives of real people. The woman in Gaza or Niger, the man in Bosnia--these are people whose lives are just as important and meaningful as our own.


White Pine Press

Place Published

Buffalo, N.Y.



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