A Buffet Table Fit for Queens (2023)

*Winner of The Washburn Prize

“‘The Language of Women’ reinforces and expands on a stance: in this poem and in this book, we are talking about language, this history of people who may have the ability to conceive, and we are talking about how words in men’s mouths have transformed women from full human beings to something less: “not even Mary can avoid the advances of God. & so every woman is a girl. Young girl. Servant girl.” Read A Buffet Table Fit for Queens, and you’ll own new ways of seeing our world. To quote Audre Lorde, ‘This is poetry as illumination.’”
Laura Lee Washburn, Judge
“Who benefits from the idea that life is linear? Susan L. Leary’s A Buffet Table Fit for Queens subverts the patriarchal origin story which clings to cause and effect, and instead invites us to forsake narrative for truth. Leary teases us towards temporal freedom, reminding us that death is “as vague as the color blue,” that every girl is “born    a ghost”, and that for women it’s always winter. Leary helps us envision the boundlessness of existence, an existence where no woman is expected “to ration   a nation’s / petals,” an existence where “Mary can avoid the advances of God.” Whether enjambed in a prose poem or floating in amniotic white space, Leary’s lines command their own plane. Luscious, intimate, and cutting, this collection has lungs. Let it change even the air you breathe.”
Alexa Doran, author of DM Me, Mother Darling
“Susan L. Leary’s new book, A Buffet Table Fit for Queens, is evocative, fierce, and unfailingly beautiful. Bearing witness to the female identity from conception to selfhood, it is a journey through a transactional world. “The unholy histories of a thousand dresses suddenly clamoring against skull & bone.” Leary creates a masterful mix of excavation and longing that savage preconceived roles. These poems are born in “The Language of Women,” yet haunt us with their marginalized voices. “A wolf howls & Mary is the chosen one. A wolf howls & in the back of a woman’s mind, not even Mary can avoid the advances of God.” Leary doesn’t leave us in the trenches, however. Her poems grow and build toward strength and discovery. “In turning from the mirror, I see my mother, seeing me as I have so badly wanted to be seen.” And it is in this remembered space that A Buffet Table Fit for Queens encourages the reader to let go and reexamine the conception of who we are and how we got there.”
Sheree La Puma, author of Broken: Do Not Use

Contraband Paradise (2021)

This Girl, Your Disciple (2019)

*Finalist for The Heartland Review Press Chapbook Prize

*Semi-Finalist for The Elyse Wolf Prize

About Me

Susan L. Leary is the author of three poetry collections: A Buffet Table Fit for Queens (Small Harbor Publishing, 2023), winner of The Washburn PrizeContraband Paradise (Main Street Rag, 2021); and This Girl, Your Disciple (Finishing Line Press, 2019), finalist for The Heartland Review Press Chapbook Prize and semi-finalist for The Elyse Wolf Prize with Slate Roof Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Tar River Poetry, Tahoma Literary Review, Superstition Review, On The Seawall, DMQ Review, jmww, Cherry Tree, Pithead Chapel, The MacGuffin, Christian Century, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Rust + Moth, Jet Fuel Review, Birdcoat Quarterly, Arcturus (Chicago Review of Books), Posit, The Ilanot Review, The Hunger, and Parentheses Journal. She has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies, and was a finalist for The 16th Mudfish Poetry Prize, judged by Marie Howe, as well as shortlisted for The Arthur Smith Poetry Prize, judged by Charlotte Pence, for her manuscript, “Only the Finest Track Stars Smoke Newports.” She holds a B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. from the University of Miami, where she also teaches Writing Studies.

Susan L. Leary