I grew up on a farm in rural NSW. Joining the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s affected everything I have done in my life.
My work is very diverse. As a writer, it encompasses poetry, fiction and non-fiction. I tend toward the literary in fiction and poetry and the theoretical and political in non-fiction. I have written a novel, The Falling Woman, a verse novel, Limen, and multiple collections of poetry, the latest of which is Lupa and Lamb. In non-fiction my range encompasses The Spinifex Quiz Book (1993), an academic book, Wild Politics (2002) and a manifesto on publishing, Bibliodiversity (2014, currently being translated into Arabic and Portuguese). The ten anthologies I have edited are a mix of fiction, poetry, autobiography, animal stories and travel writing, as well as several more academic in scope.
I was a writer before I became a publisher. I became a writer through feminism in the 1970s and that is what keeps me writing and publishing. As a publisher, I enjoy finding new work that is different and challenging. Our mission statement for Spinifex is to publish innovative and controversial feminist books with an optimistic edge. We have published writers from many different backgrounds and find ourselves wondering why others self-promote themselves as publishers of diversity when we have been doing this for twenty-five years and rarely receive any credit. I suspect that is due to an anti-feminist bias in the media. As a writer, the challenge is always to find the right form and structure. I’m currently working on a book that has its roots in academic research, but which will become either a novel or a long narrative poem. Until I get this sorted everything remains up in the air. I also enjoy mixing forms. Several of my poetry books include commentaries of various kinds.
Respecting copyright is important. It contributes to giving me a livable income as an author. As a publisher, it contributes to sustaining the press which makes up for all the unpaid work that everyone in small press publishing does.
Susan has written a poem entitled Business plan for poetry. Click here to read Susan’s poem.
Susan Hawthorne’s work life has ranged across teaching swimming, organising writers’ festivals, teaching English to Arabic Speaking women, writing and editing. After training to be a primary school teacher, she went on to university to study Philosophy. Later she went back and learnt Ancient Greek. This and her recent studies of Sanskrit and Latin have influenced her poetry. She has also been an aerialist in two circuses and has performed poetic aerials texts at several writers’ festivals. She is the author of thirteen books, (co-)editor of another ten and the Publisher at Spinifex Press which she and Renate Klein co-founded in 1991. In 1994 she was the Chair of the 6th International Feminist Book Fair, the theme of which was Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Writing and Publishing. She is currently the English-language Co-ordinator of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers based in Paris.