Mudlark No. 38 (2009)

The Limbo Suite | Poems and Paintings | Susan Kelly-DeWitt

The Limbo Suite, a poem in twenty parts,
followed by Nurse, Doll, Elegy, and July Sunset
Author’s Note
Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of The Fortunate Islands (Marick Press) and several chapbook collections including Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree, “Poems About Hawaii,” also known as Mudlark No. 33 (2007).
        Her work also appears in a number of anthologies, most recently When She Named Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women (Autumn House Press) and In Whatever Houses We May Visit: An Anthology of Poems That Have Inspired Physicians (American College of Physicians). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, The North American Review, Yankee, and Nimrod; her interviews, articles and reviews have appeared in The Sacramento Bee, Library Journal, Perihelion, Poetry Flash and Small Press Review, among others. She is currently a contributing editor for Poetry Flash and an instructor for the UC Davis Extension program. Also a visual artist, her paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in Northern California galleries for over twenty years.
        A second full-length collection of poems, Ghostfire, is currently in search of a publisher. You can visit her website at
Editor’s Note
The images that, taken together, make up the cover of The Limbo Suite are all paintings done by Susan Kelly-DeWitt, the poet herself. They are: Her Parakeet (upper left), courtesy of Susan Staats; After the Stroke (upper right); Madonna with Sewn-Shut Third Eye (lower left), courtesy of Kathleen Lynch; and Night Nurse (lower right), courtesy of Janice Haag.
        Here is what Susan Kelly-DeWitt has to say about where, in her experience, the poems and paintings come from, what inspired (and required) her to do them: “My mother had a massive cerebral hemorrhage on May 1, 1998; during that time she seemed to survive on animal will alone. I’d ride the elevator up to the hospital’s second floor ICU and, the moment the doors slid open, hear her screaming from down and around the hall. She was transferred to a skilled nursing facility three months later and lived there until her death on October 23, 2008. I tried to visit her every day, and for the most part I did; the poems here came out of those daily visits. The paintings were done in the first year after the stroke, when she was most profoundly handicapped. During that first year I felt that she was turning into a ghost of herself. The first one was painted from an old group photograph with my mother in the center, holding (inexplicably!) a parakeet. The paintings helped me articulate what I saw with my eyes and heart.”
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