Member Profile

Susan McMaster


Ottawa poet Susan McMaster is the Past President of the League of Canadian Poets and author or editor of some two dozen books, magazines, and anthologies, including recordings with First Draft, SugarBeat, and Geode Music & Poetry. Recent publications are Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry (Scrivener Press 2010), Paper Affair: Poems Selected & New (Black Moss 2010), and Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me (Black Moss 2009/10), which shortlisted for the national Acorn-Plantos People's Poetry award, the Ottawa Book Awards (fiction), and the Arc Magazine Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry. Her seventh collection, Until the Light Bends, was shortlisted for the Ottawa Book Award and the Archibald Lampman Award.

McMaster's memoir, The Gargoyle's Left Ear: Writing in Ottawa (Black Moss 2007), recounts founding Branching Out, the first Canadian feminist/arts magazine; performing with First Draft, SugarBeat, and Geode Music & Poetry across Canada and on shows such as Morningside, As It Happens, WordBeat, Richardson's Roundup, and GO!; and organizing projects like Convergence: Poems for Peace, which brought art-wrapped poetry from more than 100 contributors from across the country to all MPs and Senators in 2001. She was the founding editor of Branching Out Magazine, the national feminist and arts quarterly published from Edmonton between 1973 and 1980.

Literary editing projects include Waging Peace: Poetry & Political Action (Penumbra), Dangerous Graces: Women's Poetry on Stage (Balmuir), Bookware: Ottawa Valley Poets (League of Canadian Poets), Siolence: Poets on Women, Violence & Silence (Broken Jaw), and Sugar Mule: The Canadian Issue (e-zine). Recent essays appear in I Feel Great About My Hands - And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging (2010, Douglas & McIntyre, forthcoming), Re:Generations: Canadian Women Poets in Conversation (Black Moss 2005), and Basements and Attics: Explorations in the Materiality and Ethics of Canadian Women's Archives (2010, Wilfrid Laurier UP, forthcoming).

During two decades as a senior book editor at the National Gallery of Canada, McMaster was the founding editor-in-chief of Vernissage magazine, and edited some 30 art catalogues and numerous related publications. Now a full-time poet, she also delivers occasional workshops and lectures and, under the name Sumac Writing & Editing, edits such volumes as Sanattiaqsimajut: Inuit Art from the Carleton University Art Gallery Collection. which just received First Prize for Exhibition Catalogues in the 2009 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition, and Special recognition, Art Publication of the Year Category from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.

Susan and her husband, Ian, live in Ottawa, and summer in Minasville, Nova Scotia.

Phone number:


Until the Light Bends. Black Moss Press, 2004.
La Deriva del Pianeta / World Shift. ed. and trans. Ada Donati. Schifanoia Editore, 2003.
Uncommon Prayer: A book of dedications. Quarry Press, 1997.
Learning to Ride. Quarry Press, 1994.
The Hummingbird Murders. Quarry Press, 1992.
The Gargoyle's Left Ear: Writing in Ottawa. Black Moss, 2007
Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me. Black Moss, 2009
Dark Galaxies. Ouroboros, 1986
Paper Affair: Poems Selected & New. Black Moss, 2010
Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry. Scrivener, 2010
Geode Music & Poetry (recording). IND., 2000
1981-Wordmusic-2007. First Draft, 2007
Until the Light Bends. Pendas Productions, 2004
SugarBeat Music & Poetry. IND.
SugarBeat Music & Poetry. IND., 1999
Wordmusic. First Draft, 1986


Ottawa Book Award (shortlist) for Until the Light Bends; Crossing Arcs, 2004, 2009
Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry (shortlist) for Until the Light Bends; Crossing Arcs, 2004, 2009
Acorn-Plantos People's Poetry Award (shortlist) for Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me, 2009
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


Northern OAC WITS:
GST not applicable