As sailboat captain, rower, flyfisher, gardener, and Quaker naturalist, SUSAN SCHMIDT writes poems about moving from dark into light as she plays in boats and walks long trails. She remembers bright parrots, big trout, gales at sea, glaciers, peach pie, old loves, Celtic ancestry, Civil War battlefields, and learning to navigate. She has worked as science-policy analyst and professor of literature and environmental decision-making. Susan now edits books, with the same mindfulness as pruning apple trees, and walks beaches with her Boykin Spaniel, a Silkie like her, happiest wet. Her Gettysburg poem won the Guy Owen Poetry Prize. Her Carolina Parakeet poem appears in Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina.
Salt Runs in My Blood relates the poet’s personal journey—mostly by boat. Observing birds, she learns her own survival strategies. She travels to New Zealand, Alaska, the West Indies, but stays South where she can name the trees and paddle year round. Vulnerable on land, she is more confident on the water. The book could have been called “The Watery Part of the World".
Part I, “Estuary,” opens with the poet’s Chesapeake homeplace; learning to sail from her father whose ancestors were Chesapeake ship captains four hundred years (salt), her mother’s Irish side (soil and ink), Civil War generals, and scuba diving. Falling as a rockclimber, she turns to paddling. Fleeing a scary marriage, she goes to sea. “Open Ocean,” part II, follows her delivering sailboats across oceans to the islands. In “Pocket Water,” part III, she flyfishes in North Carolina mountains, leaves a tired romance, returns to Virginia rivers. In “Sea Level,” part IV, the poet walks the Camino de Santiago and settles on the Carolina coast where she survives hurricanes, rows and swims.
"If They Came Our Way" (Owen prizewinner) moves steadily, authoritatively, all the while building a quiet intensity, right up to its stunning, unforced conclusion. Sounds interweave, setting up a texture that pulled me in right away. I admire this poem very much, its pacing, its lineation, its careful yet emotionally wrenching detail. ~Kathryn Stripling Byer
The opening line of Salt Runs in My Blood quotes a neighbor's advice: "Remember where you come from." Susan Schmidt takes this to heart, exploring deep roots in Virginia and North Carolina. She is an intrepid explorer, approaching adventures with curiosity and wonder. Rarely do we experience the natural world through the eyes of such a keen observer, who understands the search for identity begins in the waters at home. With this lovely book she earns our trust in her skill as a gifted poet and a guide down the twisting river of the soul. ~Lee Robinson
Susan Schmidt’s poetry is tidal, seasonal, evolutionary. Traveling by wind, muscle, and memory from the Chesapeake to the Camino de Santiago, she sings like a Silkie with a human heart—about risk, loss, and resilience. Songs of her father are personal and epic. She sights birds near extinction or already lost. Her poems consider both her own fate and the planet. Schmidt writes a true line that skims, like her boat, over the surface of time and place. ~Sandy Morgan
Her eye for detail, her vision of the inner core of what she finds in Nature, her ideas as they come through imagery: Susan Schmidt can be a writer who matters. ~Richard Krawiec
Groups can book Susan to read her award winning poems, novels and nature essays. Here are just a few:
Susan Schmidt, PhD (252) 269-0032