Susan Laughter Meyers
(May 19, 1945 – June 25, 2017)
Susan Laughter (Law-ter) Meyers was the author of two collections of poems: My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, the inaugural winner of the Cider Press Review Editors' Prize, and Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006) which received the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her chapbook Lessons in Leaving (1998) won the Persephone Press Book Award. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, and jubilat, as well as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column. A long-time writing instructor with an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, Meyers taught poetry workshops and classes in area community programs. She was a past president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina and the North Carolina Poetry Society. Her awards included fellowships from the South Carolina Academy of Authors and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Susan was a North Carolina native and a resident of Givhans, South Carolina, where she lived with her husband Blue until her unexpected death on June 25, 2017. Sales from her posthumous collection, Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu, will help support the Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowship at Weymouth from the North Carolina Poetry Society and programs with the Poetry Society of South Carolina.
Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu is the fourth and final book by Susan Laughter (pronounced Law-ter) Meyers, who suffered a stroke and died in June of 2017. To family and friends, Susan’s death felt impossible, unthinkable, and unendurable. She had been such a vibrant, healthy person. We are still trying to come to terms with our loss.
Most likely every poet in the Carolinas knew Susan from her books, her readings, her workshops, and her service to the poetry community. She traveled widely throughout the Southeast to hear, study, and teach poetry. Not only was Susan a very fine poet, she was loved. The books of so many poets grew from her nurturing. Her archives are housed at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Her enormous personal library was given to schools, libraries, and close friends.
From the beginning Susan’s family called her Susan, though her birth certificate reads Alice Susan Laughter. Mary Alice was her father’s sister, and one day Aunt Mary Alice disappeared. No one ever discovered what happened, where she went. This mystery became the seed of Susan’s last work.
Many of us were aware that Susan was circulating this manuscript at the time of her death. We had read and worked with her on many of the poems and consulted on the manuscript’s arrangement. Thanks to Barbara Hagerty for knowing to search for the manuscript. Thanks to Frances Pearce for knowing how to find it. Thanks to Susan’s many friends for knowing that the manuscript must be brought to Susan’s readers. We expect Susan would have thanked so many others—you know who you are. Extra special thanks to Kevin Watson and Press 53 for publishing her final work. Proceeds will be donated to the poetry societies of North and South Carolina.