Quilting the Loose Edges
by Susan Woods Morse
When Susan Woods Morse sees a quilt, she sees the artform of a treasured heirloom, assembled from a variety of fabric pieces, often with dissimilar patterns, yet intricately hand-stitched to tell a story and pass down through generations. In Quilting the Loose Edges she honors the travelers and the quilters in her family. These poems illustrate generations of journeys—her grandparents’ migration from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to the oil fields in Texas, then up and down the west coast to settle in California’s San Joaquin Valley, mirrored against her own journey from California to Maine and back west again to settle in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Like a quilt, this collection is a tapestry stitched together— a landscape of the places she has known and the people she has loved.
Enjoy a Video of Susan Reading from the Book:
Susan Woods Morse — A Featured Poet on The Poetry Box LIVE (Sept. 2023)
Early Praise for Quilting the Loose Edges:
This collection of poems vividly evokes the widely separated places the poet has lived—California’s San Joaquin Valley, rural Maine, and Western Oregon—and the tensions within and between generations of an American family. We feel the heat of Southern California summers, the piercing chill of Maine winters, and the lushness of a Willamette Valley spring. We feel also the strains of physical and emotional distances as successive generations leave home, return, establish new homes, or range restlessly. Besides conjuring up entire physical and social landscapes, these poems adumbrate the nuances and complexities of relations between child and parent, and among siblings. The poet’s relocations and family relationships are necessarily individual, but they connect with a larger story of Americans’ migrations over the past century, and their particulars will reverberate with those of many readers’ lives.
—Eleanor Berry, author of Works of Wildfire
Borne by love, Quilting the Loose Edges takes a close hard look back across one woman’s life, passing through questions of the unanswerable: how? why? Yet there’s a soft breeze aloft, a quality of peace, of praise, and much grace within these pages, tucked among portraits of a family’s harsh history, deep friendships, beloved landscapes.
Part memoir, part love song, part elegy, part travelogue, this collection journeys beyond any common foundation. Life’s trajectory, the tale, a quilt, if you will, laid out hauntingly beautifully, complex in design and production—serviceable, warm, lovely, practical—which will last generations.
Grabs this reader by the heart, squeezes.
—Nancy Christopherson, author of The Leaf
Leave it in the hands of a poet the caliber of Susan Woods Morse to take us with her, crisscrossing the country—all along, stitching the edges of memories and loss, of family truths, into the fabric. In Quilting the Loose Edges, we can feel the grit, the biting winter cold, the hope for a new spring, in these stanzas—how these poems form a well-blocked legacy, leaving behind their long threads of forgiveness.
—Marilyn Johnston, author of Before Igniting,
winner, Donna J. Stone National Literary Award for Poetry
Compelling, elegant, and remarkably honest, Quilting the Loose Edges is filled with stark, realistic poems that paint an intimate portrait of love, loss, family, identity, and the ever-present need for empathy. In these vibrant poems of nature and biography, Morse showcases a true talent for imbuing the smallest human details with authenticity and layered meanings. Each poem maps out the human heart, in all its internal conflicts, with precision and grace. Overflowing with vivid and accessible language, Quilting the Loose Edges is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging, written with clear eyes and an open, curious heart.
—John Sibley Williams, author of The Drowning House
and Scale Model of a Country at Dawn
About the Author:
Susan Woods Morse has a Masters degree in Literacy Education. She taught ELA at the middle school level for many years before retiring in 2016. Born in California, she transplanted to the backwoods of Maine for thirty years, before finally moving to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to be closer to her family. There, Susan served on the board of the Oregon Poetry Association and had her first chapbook, In the Hush, published by Finishing Line Press in 2019.
Her work has appeared in various journals such as Cream City Review, The Mom Egg, Sixfold, Cirque, Willawaw Journal, Aji Magazine, VoiceCatcher, Verseweavers, Wood Cat Review, and The Poeming Pigeon. Her poem,”Of Plates and Poets, A Somewhat Ars Poetica” was an NFSPS 1st place winner of the New York Poetry Forum Award in 2021. Susan is a member of the Mid Valley Poetry Society and often reads her work during Salem Poetry Project and Head for the Hills events. She enjoys gardening, camping, and just “being out there” in nature.