Susan Tichy’s newest book, Trafficke (Ahsahta Press, 2015), interrogates three hundred years of family history in Scotland and Maryland, tracking and remixing questions of race and identity, fact and legend into a mosaic of verse, lyric prose, and historical narrative. Twenty years in the making, Trafficke was instigated by the life of Tichy’s earliest immigrant ancestor, a Highland Scot transported to Maryland as a prisoner of war in the 1650s and sold into indentured servitude. He died twenty-five years later, the owner of four indentured servants, 1200 acres of what had been Patuxent and Piscataway land, and one African man.
She is also the author of Gallowglass (Ahsahta, 2010), which takes its title from an Anglicized form of the Gaelic gal-óglac, a foreign soldier or mercenary, and of Bone Pagoda (Ahsahta, 2007), an extended meditation on Vietnam—the country, the war, and the moral catastrophe now signified by this word. Both books are underwritten by her experience as a war protester and as the wife of a combat veteran. Tichy’s first book, The Hands in Exile (Random House, 1983), centered on time spent working on the Golan Heights, was selected for the National Poetry Series and also received the Eugene Kayden Award for Poetry. Her second book, A Smell of Burning Starts the Day (Wesleyan, 1988), resulted from research into human rights abuse in the Philippines during the Marcos years and her subsequent discovery of a family connection to comparable practices during the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902.
Her poems and mixed-genre works are published widely in the US, Britain, and Australia and have been recognized by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous other awards, including prizes from Beloit Poetry Journal, Indiana Review, and (for innovative prose) Quarter After Eight. In 2019 she will retire from thirty years teaching in the MFA and BFA programs at George Mason University. Except when teaching, she has lived for thirty-six years in the foothills of the Wet Mountains/Sierra Mojada, in a solar cabin she and her late husband built by hand.
Susan Tichy is a member of Coming to the Table, a non-profit organization that provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal the wounds from racism rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.
Susan Tichy is available for readings & workshops. Please use the contact link above.
PHOTOS: SUSAN TICHY