Parker_VIRAL cover FINAL HR small

Paperback Price: 15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-01-5

Selected Poem
Press Kit

Only Kissing

        The webcam showed only two men kissing.

In the eyes now
a wilderness—
when the bird open
their beaks
not in song,
but in a huff
escapes from the rigor
of killing, feeding
climbing to find,
again, the swaying
of grass, the nudging
a being makes as it moves,
no matter how
quietly, through
the world,
setting its neighbors
in motion.
How do you sleep
when the siren
is your own exhaled cry:
"Oh Christ."


26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist

“. . .[Suzanne] Parker engages the specifics of one individual’s story in order to create a universal sense of empathy in her readers: challenging us to see ourselves in each poem, to see the people in this narrative as more real—more whole, more fractured, more human—than any news story.” —Connotation Press

“With expert deftness, Parker makes flat the concepts of good and evil, showing compassionate humanness in dark places, and unbelievable light in hardness.” —Lambda Literary

Viral is an extended elegy to Tyler Clementi, and a bold effort to understand his world and the people in it. The book is audacious in scope and imagination, complex in its empathy and rage.” —Jewish Currents

“[Suzanne Parker] has a wonderful ability to question her subjects empathically. That is, she puts herself in the place of the other, no matter how alien or uncomfortable. She uses her lyric talents to give voice to this empathic questioning.”
The Rumpus

Viral, by Suzanne Parker, both embodies and outdistances its form: an extended elegy for Tyler Clementi (the Rutgers student whose privacy was brutally invaded by his room-mate and sent out on the web, precipitating Tyler’s suicide). It exceeds the elegy form and becomes a shocked, beautifully anaphoric invocation— a hopeless nonstop summons, a call-out to the lost one— to bring him back. These are relentlessly tender, impossibly empathetic poems— which echo and clarify the body of grief— “…the need to pass/through the impassable and land/in a space I fill, exactly.” The emotional tension is unbearable, but sustained, just as the human heart goes on, after unimaginable loss.”
—Carol Muske-Dukes

“In language that is elegant, tender, and uncompromising, Suzanne Parker tells a story of violation and injustice not ripped from the headlines, but lost in them. Rage, as in all good art, is immersed in craft where it smolders still hot enough to scorch the reader. Parker turns tragedy into art— not for sensationalism, but an honoring of innocence, and love.”
—Kurt Brown

“One boy leaps from a bridge into a river, and the ripples from his fall ring out to encompass a nation. All that remains unspoken in the reportage— the sorrow and compassion and anger— is given eloquent voice as Suzanne Parker documents another tragedy that challenges our political experiment. Grief-stricken and abiding, Viral addresses our ongoing struggle for democracy.”
—Michael Waters

“I admire poems that quarrel— without preaching or redundancy— with social injustice, with injustice, period. Part outrage, part elegy, these spare and exact poems move me deeply.”
—Thomas Lux



  1. Wednesday, February 25, Suzanne Parker | South Jersey Poets Collective - February 8, 2015

    […] Parker is a winner of the Kinereth Gensler Book Award for her poetry collection Viral (Alice James Books, 2013), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and is on the National Library […]

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