By Susan Olsen Orpilla, Contributing Writer
Stow – Local award-winning poet and author Susan Edwards Richmond encourages us all to remember that nature and our outdoor environment is for our enjoyment but also so much more.
“We need to respect nature. It’s not there just for our use and convenience,” she said. “It is a part of human life.”
Respecting nature will also help reveal our commonalities as well as developing more compassion for animals and the environment, she added.
For Edwards Richmond, connecting with nature and animals is very healing, revealing, and transforming. As such, she uses her writing to inspire others to experience the same emotions. Writing since childhood, most of her works are poetry with alluring imagery and detailed accounts of movement.
Born in California, her family moved to upstate New York when she was quite young. Her love of nature and animals grew from exploring the woods of her backyard and catching crayfish in a local creek. Edwards Richmond first moved to Massachusetts to attend Williams College where she majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. She then attended the University of California at Davis and received a master of arts in creative writing and poetry.
Her career path has intertwined her love of nature and her writing journey. She began submitting her creative writing after college and has over 100 works published in journals and anthologies such as Appalachia, Birdwatcher’s Digest, Earthwise, Sanctuary, The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America and Runes: A Review of Poetry: Hearth.
She said that she starts with a few thoughts and lets them run as far as they can. Her writing takes her down the path to where it wants to go; in fact, her first published book came about that way. While developing curriculum for the Jason Foundation for Education, she transcribed an interview with a Shaman about the myth of pink freshwater river dolphins in the Amazon which would take on human form and were often used to explain mysterious happenings. Intrigued by this widely believed story, Edwards Richmond was inspired to write her first book, Boto in 2002.
Her second book, Birding in Winter developed from her love of bird watching from the snowy landscapes of New England to the beaches of Florida. With a very different theme, her third book Purgatory Chasm (Adastra Press, 2007) is a collection featuring different aspects of the popular hiking site in Sutton, Mass., including rock formations, modern hikers, ghosts of those who have died there, as well as the inner struggles and reflections of her own past.
This October Peachtree Publishing Company Inc. will be releasing Edwards Richmond’s first children’s book. Bird Count was inspired by her own experience in in the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. She looks forward to writing more books for children joining story with nature, science, and environmental concepts.
In addition to freelance writing, proofing and editing, Edwards Richmond has taught creative writing at the Shirley Medium Correctional Facility and various universities. She is also a founding member of The Concord Poetry Center and oversees the Poem of the Month at Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio. She has a passion for inspiring other writers and artists by leading Plein Air (outdoor) walks connecting people with the community of nature. She loves the children’s excitement and openness to nature at her current position as a Preschool Teacher at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Community Preschool.
Edwards Richmond had lived many years in Acton and recently moved to Stow where her yard is reminiscent of her childhood backyard full of green and trees. Her husband Jim and two grown daughters, Elana and Sonia, also share her love of nature.