"To be bright in my bones"


Suzanne Underwood Rhodes lives, writes, and teaches in the mountains of Fayetteville, Arkansas. A native of New York, she began writing poetry at age six and won several prizes for her poems as a girl. Inspired by teachers and others who nurtured her writing, Suzanne takes a passionate interest in developing other poets through workshops, mentoring, and editing. 

Her poems explore personal history and family, the allure of the natural world, the psychological contradictions and complexities of human personality, and Christian spirituality. She holds words close to her ear to capture the rhythms and sounds that lead to poems.

She received a bachelor's degree in English from James Madison University and a master of arts degree from Johns Hopkins University in the Writing Seminars where she held a teaching fellowship. She taught creative writing at King University and St. Leo University, and has given poetry workshops to students ages five to eighty. Currently, she conducts remote poetry workshops and classes at the Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia. She owns and operates a small, independent communications business, PR Flair.

Suzanne's books include the following:

Weather of the House (Sow's Ear Press, 1994) -- chapbook

What a Light Thing, This Stone (Sow's Ear Press, 1995) -- full-length collection

Sketches of Home (Canon Press, 1998) -- prose poems
The Roar on the Other Side (Canon Press, 2000) - a guide for student poets
A Welcome Shore (Canon Press, 2010) -- prose poems
Hungry Foxes (Aldrich Press, 2013) -- chapbook

Flying Yellow (Paraclete Press, 2021) -- full-length collection

Listed in Poets & Writers Directory, Suzanne was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (1992) and the poet laureate of the Bristol Bird Club (her favorite place of honor!) Her poems have won acclaim through several awards and prizes, including two Pushcart Prize nominations; first place, Dr. Lily Peters Poetry Contest, third place, Arizona Poetry Society Contest, a Library of Virginia nomination for A Welcome Shore; first prize in poetry, Virginia Highlands Creative Writing Contest; seventh place in poetry, a Writer's Digest competition; and honorable mentions for poems in Now and Then and the Sow's Ear Poetry Review. Her poems have been widely published in journals and magazines, including The Christian Century, Poetry East, Image, Shenandoah, Slant, Spiritus, Anglican Theological Review, Southern Poetry Review, Penwood Review, ARTS, St. Katherine Review, The Cresset (forthcoming), Spoon River Poetry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Edgar Allan Poe Review, Urban Spaghetti, Blue Fifth Review, ArtScene, Radix, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Appalachian Heritage, Appalachian Journal, Lullwater Review, A! Magazine and others.

Her poems are also found in several anthologies: Mid-South Anthology, Green Mountains Review's American Poet Laureate Series, Light Upon Light: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide, Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets; Words and Quilts; and In Place.

Her poem "Advent" has been featured in a variety of venues and publications: a devotional book She Prays by Debbie Lindell, 2019; set to music for Lessons and Carols at City Church, Philadelphia, Christmas 2010; Christmas service, Second City Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, PA, 2012; Christmas card, Westmont College; and a painting by G. Carol Bomer, "Through the Needle's Eye the Rich Man Came," 1993. 

Suzanne's essays have appeared in The Nearest Poem anthology, The Writer's Room, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review and 64, and her reviews in Anglican Theological Review, Psaltery & Lyre, and Literary Magazine Review.  She is a co-founder of the Appalachian Center for Poets and Writers and a former associate editor of the Sow's Ear Poetry Review as well as the magazine's guest editor for the final issue. She served as an executive director for the Poetry Society of Virginia and is a board member of Poets Roundtable of Arkansas.     

West Fork Library, West Fork, AR 2022
Live reading at the "Writer's  Block," WHRO , Norfolk, VA, 2017
Virginia Wesleyan University, 2014