Blue Atlas

Blue Atlas is a lyrical abortion narrative unlike any other.

This one-of-a-kind collection follows a Jewish woman and her ghosts as they travel from West Africa to Europe and, finally, to the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The speaker searches repeatedly for a new outcome, seeking answers in a myriad of mediums such as an online questionnaire, a freshman composition essay, and a curriculum vitae. The raw, often far from idyllic experience of a global love affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy is examined and meditated upon through a surreal prism. The Blue Atlas, a genus of the common cedar tree first found in the High Atlas of Morocco and known for its beauty and resilience, becomes a metaphor for the hardship and power of a fully engaged life.


“The remarkable poems of Blue Atlas chart an expansive life which spins around an epicenter of loss, but loss is too tame a word, really, for what this speaker bears. ‘I am a woman swollen with the history of my dead,’ Rich writes, ‘a body awash in stories.’ She describes an imperiled childhood and a young adulthood that culminates in a coerced midterm abortion, which ‘stays suspended in resin / like a tiny scorpion, / transforming anger into amber.’ Blue Atlas exquisitely performs the way trauma—the utter loss of self-determination, of choice—can turn a life to seawater, to drift, to ‘somehow, the might still be—’ mapping ‘constellations of in-between,’ suspended between deciding and undeciding, from a space outside of the circumference of longing, where poetry lives.”

Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets

“Plaintive and ferocious by turns, the voice in Susan Rich’s poems keeps asking the same question: ‘Does anyone escape her own story?’  The answer, of course, is no, especially when the effects of an early loss keep troubling the later decades of a life, exerting measures of devastation, regret, and nostalgia. Blue Atlas is Rich’s sixth book of poems, and it marks an apotheosis—an apotheosis that, as the title suggests, is suffused with amplitude and intimacy, woundedness and wonder.  Rich has arrived at a place of wisdom in her work, enthralled by still another essential question: ‘what is this heaviness // embedded in our good luck— / this sharp, bronzed hinge?’”

Rick Barot, author of Moving the Bones

A photograph of acure jars on inclining steps of a teal mediterranean green background with white text reading "Blue Atlas, Poems, Susan Rich"

Susan Rich ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 2, 2024

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$17.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 9781636281261




Susan Rich’s eighth book, Blue Atlas, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press (April 2, 2024). Gallery of Postcards and Maps: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry) and Demystifying the Manuscript: Essays and Interviews for […]