Annual Women’s History Month poetry reading in honor of Professor Susan McLean

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Annual Women’s History Month poetry reading in honor of Professor Susan McLean


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After 30 years of working for SMSU, Susan McLean is retiring. To celebrate her years of work here and success as a poet, McLean’s colleagues surprised her by deciding that the Women’s History Month poetry reading would contain poems that were all hers.

The reading took place on March 14 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. An array of current and past staff, faculty, and students were in attendance. There were ten readers, and each had chosen the poems they read for a specific reason.

“I chose these poems because they might initially seem to be about a pretty common thing in one’s life, but they are often [about] much more,” said President Connie Gores.

She was the first reader at the event, and read “Origami”, “Reading by Flashlight”, and “Wisdom Teeth”.

Other readers had chosen their pieces because of experiences in life that they found related to the poem, it made them think, it spoke to them, or they liked what it was about.

For Saara Raappana, Assistant Professor of English, she thought that she chose to read “The Demon Lover” “because it reminded me of my high school boyfriends.”

The only student reader was Kristen Barnhardt. Before she read her poems, she thanked McLean for the things that she had personally learned from her.

“I’d like to thank Susan McLean for teaching me how to read poetry, and that form doesn’t mean boring,” she said. Barnhardt read “Instructions for Climbing and Descending”, “Emily Dickenson Becomes an Honorary Kardashian”, and “Bright Girl”.

After each reader had read three poems, McLean came to the podium and read “Vanity”, “The Cape”, and “The Limits of Art”. She thanked the audience for attending, reading her poems, and celebrating her time at SMSU.

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