Susan Sample

Susan Sample

ssampl@msn.com

 801-272-3041

   Salt Lake City, UT

Susan Sample, a Salt Lake City resident, has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Her poetry has won awards in two recent Utah Arts Council’s Original Writing Competitions; her fiction won an award in Redbook magazine’s Young Writers Contest. She has published in literary journals, with her poems most recently appearing in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Ellipsis, Salt Flats Annual and City Art Journal. Since 2002, Susan has led poetry workshops for the Arts Council at the Youth Transplant Kamp, teaching teenagers who’ve survived organ transplants. She also has taught poetry to children and adults for World Hospice Day at the Huntsman Cancer Center, and to patients with kidney disease and their families. At the University of Utah School of Medicine, where she is a program associate in the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities, Susan teaches reflective writing to medical students. Not all of her teaching involves health and medicine, however. She has served as a writer-in-residence at elementary, junior high, and high schools in the Salt Lake area, and for the Colorado Arts Council. Wherever she teaches poetry, Susan approaches writing as a process of discovery that is both fun and meaningful. Paper and pencils are essential, but so, too, are students’ senses. She encourages them to use all of themselves—ears, eyes, nose, fingers. How does it taste when you imagine being locked out of your house? She might have students draw maps of their backyards. What do you suddenly hear if you can’t get inside? By focusing on their senses, students, especially older ones, erase the division between mind and body, and their writing process becomes less self-conscious. The results are poems whose honesty often surprises the writers themselves. They begin to see the world and their lives in new ways; they experience how meaningful poetry can be. Language is at the core of Susan’s writing classes. She encourages students to reach for words that are intense and original. She often has writers “warm up” by brainstorming similes for everyday objects in their world: classroom light fixtures look like ice trays; surgical tubing, a noose. To illustrate rhythm, metaphors, and other elements of the craft of writing, she reads aloud from a wide range of poetry: Lucille Clifton to Rumi, Theodore Roethke to Utah’s late poet laureate, Ken Brewer. Since sound is critical in poetry, Susan encourages students to listen to the writing of others in the class or workshop. By sharing their work in an environment of respect and support, students often are motivated to take risks, pushing their creativity to new levels. Susan likes to end her residencies with activities that take poetry off the page and into writers’ lives. These have included: transforming poems about windows into actual windows (using transparencies and markers), which they can display at home; performing poems at a café; and mailing students their “I Remember” poems months, and even a year, later. Susan is available for short-term workshops, extended projects, and residences. She also is available for teacher training with health-care professionals and collaborations with artists in other areas, such as dance or book-making. She prefers to work with special populations, especially teens and adults in the Salt Lake area. Technical requirements: paper, pencils, and access to a computer and printer to copy students’ writing. (