Susan McCaslin (1947- ) of Fort Langly, British Columbia, has penned numerous poems in her books "Conversing with Paradise" (1979), "Veil/Unveil" (1997), "Into the Open" (1999), "Flying Wounded" (2000), "The Altering Eye" (2000, Borealis), and more. An instructor of English and creative writing at Douglas College in Coquitlam, British Columbia, she is also editor of the anthology, "A Matter of Spirit: Recovery of the Sacred in Contemporary Canadian Poetry" (1998).
The Altering Eye begins as a heralding of the poet's literary mentors, William Blake, poet, visionary and artist ("Letters to William Blake") and Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic ("The Teresa Poems"). Yet it quickly becomes apparent that the import of the conversation with her spiritual companions is an engagement in the mystical tradition as a living stream. In the last section, "Oracular Heart", the poet mixes everyday work, play and her own daring dream work into a synthesis capable of overcoming some of the dualities of contemporary life.
In one of the fifteen short letters to William Blake, Susan McCaslin asks, "What happens to the reconstructive Imagination/after a hundred replays of 'I Love Lucy' ...?" A good question. And one central to this series of remarkable poems about modern life and its dilemmas. While not above giving Blake the odd dig, McCaslin's tone is both familiar and respectful, and her final works to him are "keep me informed through the sieve of your eye." Indeed