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Susan McMaster

Photo: Aven McMaster 2017

"Susan McMaster's purview is the world entire, with all its mystery, heartbreak and magic" (Carolyn Smart, editor McGill-Queen's). Her poetry has been described as "muscular, candid, intimate yet universal... with an open, seemingly effortless control of her craft" (Heather Spears, GG award winner). A past president of the League of Canadian Poets, she is author or editor of 30+ poetry books and recordings; her work has been widely anthologized. McMaster's midlife memoir, The Gargoyle's Left Ear, recounts founding Branching Out, the first Canadian feminist/arts magazine; and 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! She worked for two decades as a senior book editor at the National Gallery of Canada, editing more than three dozen catalogues, several with contemporary Canadian poetry, and founding Vernissage magazine, including ekphrastic poetry from some two dozen poets nationally. She is now a fulltime writer.

Literary editing projects include such collections as Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry; Dangerous Graces: Women's Poetry on Stage, Bookware: Ottawa Valley PoetsSiolence: Poets on Women, Violence & Silence, and Sugar Mule: The Canadian Issue. She has organized 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 the millennial year, published in Waging Peace: Poetry & Political Action. Essays appear in such collections as I Feel Great About My Hands - And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging; Re:Generations: Canadian Women Poets in Conversation (Black Moss); Imprints & Casualties; Basements and Attics: Explorations in the Materiality and Ethics of Canadian Women's Archives; and the Living Archives series of the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets.

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

Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Haunt. Black Moss, 2018
Lizard Love: Artists scan poetry by Susan McMaster. Borealis Press, 2017
Gift to be Simple: Crossing Arcs, Alzheimer’s, my mother, and me (2 versions, 4 recordings). Barbara Dyck & SM, 2017
ImproVisions (recordings). John Armstrong & SM, 2017
Things You'll Never Know: from Crossing Arcs (recording). Jennifer Giles & SM, 2014
Paper Affair: Poems Selected & New. Black Moss, 2010
Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me. Black Moss, 2009, reprint 2010
Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry. Scrivener, 2010
Sugar Mule: The Canadian Issue (e-zine #33). published in expanded edition as Pith & Wry, 2009
The Gargoyle's Left Ear: Writing in Ottawa. Black Moss, 2007
1981-Wordmusic-2007 (recording). First Draft, 2007
Until the Light Bends. Black Moss Press, 2004
Until the Light Bends (recording). Pendas Productions, 2004
La Deriva del Pianeta / World Shift. ed. and trans. Ada Donati. Schifanoia Editore, 2003
Convergence: Poems for Peace (recording). SM, 2001
Geode Music & Poetry (recording). Geode, 2000
Waging Peace: Poetry & Political Action. Penumbra, 2002
Convergence: Poems for Peace (boxed set, limited edition). SM, 2001
SugarBeat Music & Poetry (recording). SugarBeat, 1998
Siolence: Poets on Women, Violence & Silence . Quarry, 1998
Uncommon Prayer: A book of dedications. Quarry Press, 1997
Learning to Ride. Quarry Press, 1994
Bookware: Ottawa Valley Poets. League of Canadian Poets, 1994
The Hummingbird Murders. Quarry Press, 1992
Dangerous Graces: Women's Poetry on Stage. Balmuir Press, 1987
Dark Galaxies. Ouroboros, 1986
Wordmusic (recording). First Draft, 1986


Ottawa Book Award (shortlist) for Until the Light Bends; Crossing Arcs, 2004, 2009
Branching Out Magazine for New Women's Magazine Society,, 1973-80, digitized 2016
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:
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