****Winner of the 2021 Three Trees Portfolio Award****
We are delighted to launch the winning entry of the 2021 Three Trees Portfolio Award.
Last of the Line is a about family and background. It begins with poems
about Jewish origin and memories of childhood with intimate portraits of family. There are themes of loss and missed opportunities but also lightness and humour. A wonderful collection.
Susan Jordan has lived in Devon for the past ten years, having spent most of her life in London, and loves being close to the countryside and the coast. She read English at Oxford and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she wrote both poetry and fiction. She has published two full-length collections of poetry and her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies.
Praise for Last of the Line:
Susan Jordan’s Jewish heritage – so vividly and intimately realised in these poems – puts her at one remove from both the country of her birth and the culture into which she was born. It is this sense of feeling adrift that imbues the poems with a powerful objectivity, evoking the emotional distances between family members, spaces seemingly impossible to broach. There is a desolation that comes with the physical loss not only of a family member but of an opportunity to love and understand, the loss of a possibility to connect with that other and in some way redeem the family – or the memory of it. Many of the poems take place in evocative and vividly remembered domestic interiors where rituals, made rich and strange through a combination of cultural heritage and family dramas, play out with subtle resonance. Each poem is like a beautifully – often painfully – created miniature,
realised with the clarity and fresh pain of remembrance. If all this sounds bleak, Jordan has a way of lightening the tone too. Her simple diction, by cutting straight to the heart of the matter, delivers the punch without self-indulgence, so that any hurt we might feel has an almost clarifying, cathartic force.
Susan Jordan’s pamphlet Last of the Line leads us through her childhood; the Jewish way of life that the family only partly embraces is richly described through its vocabulary, ceremonies and traditional food. ‘We sipped Passover wine […]/the rich deep red burning in our chests’. She is unflinchingly honest and tender about her relationship with her parents even into adulthood: how difficult it can be to love and be loved. Her mother’s cooking gives life, but Jordan says of her, ‘I kept killing you with silence’. Communication with her father is also difficult: ‘We […] never
crossed/the border into each other’s land’. This evocative and beautifully
composed pamphlet is full of immediacy, powerful testament, and startling last lines.
In this tightly-woven pamphlet Susan Jordan takes us into the world of her Jewish grandparents, aunts and uncles as they arrive in England from a world that they can no longer inhabit. She brings to life grandparents Etty, plump as a sofa, and Ilya; we follow their journey, see how their lives change, and meet her parents. The title, Last of the Line, becomes clear: the poet is the last of the line, which in a Jewish family is carried through the women. She writes searchingly about her
parents and her relationship with them, and movingly about her mother’s death: ‘the pain of losing you and the freedom from you’. These poems are steeped in Jewish traditions and speak about identity, change and affirmation. Jordan has a sure touch and carries the reader with her all the way.