Listening in the Dark
by Suzy Harris
Third Place Winner of The Poetry Box Chapbook Prize, 2022
The poems in Listening in the Dark center on the theme of growing up with an unidentified hearing loss that progressively became much worse. In her mid-20s, Suzy Harris learned the diagnosis and started wearing hearing aids. In her mid-60s, after losing most of her hearing in both ears, she received her first cochlear implant, and then a second one, which required learning to hear again.
Early Praise for Listening in the Dark:
I have seldom encountered a series of poems so closely linked and connected as a whole. This chapbook tenderly addresses the poet’s lifelong hearing loss with a surprising precision of language, starting at the very beginning of life and reimagining that time of “growing up with two languages,/ one that is silence.” No doubt these tender poems will help many readers to feel less alone as they navigate their own worlds of memory, loss, and resilience.
—James Crews, contest judge
poet, editor of How to Love the World
This chapbook from Suzy Harris offers us—in richly musical, image-laden lines—a Phoenix-tale. Mostly deaf by her mid 60’s, the poet exists in a too-silent world where “sounds/ falter and collapse.” Then she undergoes cochlear implants in both ears, artificial devices completely replacing her profoundly faulty natural hearing. With lyric intensity, her poems convey Harris’ experiences as she slowly undertakes the eerie process of learning a whole new universe of sound, translating the implants’ “ticks and taps and dings” into what’s recognizable. Risen from its own ashes, the poet’s new sense of hearing leads her toward the “exquisite harmony” of soaring renewal.
—Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita
Listening In the Dark is a visceral prosodic manual of “How to be Deaf,” a title of one poem in this triumphant collection of a survivor poet, “…who grows-up with two languages,/ one that is silence?,” in which “Life is an erasure poem where you/ try endlessly to find the meaning.” Suzy Harris propels us into her world—an exultant quest from “Broken Listening” to the cacophony and wonder of sound. This is a collection of lived experience that only Harris could author.
—Willa Schneberg, LCSW, recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry,
author of The Naked Room
About the Author
Suzy Harris lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Clackamas Literary Review, Switchgrass Review, The Poeming Pigeon, and Williwaw, among other journals and anthologies. She has been an Oregon Poetry Association prize winner and recently served as poetry editor of Timberline Review. Suzy is a retired attorney who is learning to hear again with two cochlear implants. Born and raised in Indiana, she is grateful to call the Pacific Northwest home.