Synopses & Reviews
One boy leaps from a bridge into a river, and the ripples from his fall ring out to encompass a nation. All that remains unspoken in the reportagethe sorrow and compassion and angeris given eloquent voice as Suzanne Parker documents another tragedy that challenges our political experiment. Grief-stricken and abiding, Viral
addresses our ongoing struggle for democracy.” Michael Waters
Written in response to the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, Viral explores the complex issues of sexuality, shame, and masculinity. Grief and loss guide us as Suzanne Parker investigates the issues of privacy, voyeurism, and human contact, seeking to understand what it means to live in a world where technology can quickly turn a dark computer screen into an open window.
The webcam showed only the two men kissing
In the eyes now
when the birds open
not in song,
but a breath
escapes from the rigor
of killing and feeding
and climbing to find,
again, the swaying
of the grass, the nudging
a body makes as it moves,
no matter how
setting its neighbors
How do you sleep
when the siren
is your own exhaled cry:
Suzanne Parker's poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Rattapallax, and numerous other journals. She is a winner of the Alice M. Sellars Award from the Academy of American Poets, was a poetry fellow at the Prague Summer Seminars, and has received fellowships and scholarships from Sarah Lawrence College Summer Writers Seminar and Prairie Schooner. Suzanne directs the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College and is an editor for MEAD: A Magazine of Literature and Libations.
Viral, by Suzanne Parker, both embodies and outdistances its form: an extended elegy for Tyler Clementi (the Rutgers student whose privacy was brutally invaded by his roommate and sent out on the web, precipitating Tylers suicide). It exceeds the elegy form and becomes a shocked, beautifully anaphoric invocationa hopeless nonstop summons, a call-out to the lost oneto bring him back. These are relentlessly tender, impossibly empathetic poemswhich echo and clarify the body of grief '
the need to pass/through the impassable and land/in a space I fill, exactly.' The emotional tension is unbearable, but sustained, just as the human heart goes on, after unimaginable loss.” Carol Muske-Dukes
In language that is elegant, tender, and uncompromising, Suzanne Parker tells a story of violation and injustice not ripped from the headlines, but lost in them. Rage, as in all good art, is immersed in craft where it smolders still hot enough to scorch the reader. Parker turns tragedy into artnot for sensationalism, but an honoring of innocence, and love.” Kurt Brown
I admire poems that quarrelwithout preaching or redundancy with social injustice, with injustice, period. Part outrage, part elegy, these spare and exact poems move me deeply.” Thomas Lux
Reflecting on the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, Viral reveals the way any one event ripples outward to affect many.
About the Author
Suzanne Parker's poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Rattapallax, and numerous other journals. She has also published non-fiction in the travel anthology Something to Declare, edited by Gillian Kendall (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009 ). She is a winner of the Alice M. Sellars Award from the Academy of American Poets, was a Poetry Fellow at the Prague Summer Seminars, and has received fellowships and scholarships from Sarah Lawrence College Summer Writers Seminar, and Prairie Schooner. Suzanne directs the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College and is an editor for MEAD: A Magazine of Literature and Libations.