When I was doing my undergrad at University of Victoria, I became captivated by the poetry of Susan Musgrave. In particular it was her volume called Songs of the Sea-Witch that spoke to me. They were what she calls “sea-sad,” “loamishly sad.” Her tragic tales and romantic lines appealed to my passionate young heart. I still have an old copy of the Malahat Review (Number 53, January 1980) in which she’s interviewed.
The editor of the Review was Robin Skelton, a UVic English professor and poet. It was Skelton that saved her life. Musgrave was struggling with mental health issues and he visited her in the hospital. He asked to read some of her poetry. He told her that she wasn’t mad, she was a poet. He published some of her work in the Review and gave her a list of magazines to submit to, and she was launched.
She has since written many more books of poetry, works of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. Tonight she will be reading at the Twisted Poets event put on by Pandora’s Collective, at the Cottage Bistro on Main in Vancouver. I am going and will bring my copy of the Malahat Review for her to sign, in the hopes that she’ll have a moment for one of her longtime, bewitched fans.