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Susan Marie LaVallée

Susan Marie LaVallée

1950 - October 27, 2011

Susan Marie LaVallée, born in Santa Monica, was raised in Whittier, California. She was the second oldest in a family of nine children--six girls and three boys. Her father Albert was a Los Angeles detective; and her mother Bettie an oncology nurse. Following a Catholic school education, she earned her undergrad and graduate degrees from UCLA (BA/English; MA/Education-credential). She taught for many years in parochial elementary schools in California and Hawaii. She travelled extensively in her youth throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. After visiting her parents at their home in Hawaii, she fell in love with the islands and moved to Kailua in 1987. She published five books of poetry and had more recently turned to writing haiku and tanka. She entered many contests and was always pleased to have one of her pieces chosen for publication or given an award. One of the special achievements that she was especially proud of was being elected Regional Coordinator for the Haiku Society of America's Hawaii/Pacific Rim/Guam Region. Her sister wrote: "Susan Marie's passion for writing encompassed her entire life. Her written words were the very essence of who she was and what her earthly life was all about. Many years ago, she wrote this about herself in one of her published poetry books..."i will write until my breath turns to vapor and my flesh to bone..." She could always be found with pen and pad in hand sitting at one of the various coffee shops throughout Oahu, observing people and nature, reflecting and writing. She saw things in life and nature that others would rush by without a second look. She took the time and found such beauty in the simplicity of life. She didn't want others to fuss over her illness. She chose to live her last months just like she lived everyday--writing, walking, and enjoying paradise. Susan Marie now writes her verse with a golden pen for the angels. We will miss her always."

Books Published: Find Me (Shelters Press, 1975); Stitching Up the Distance (1979); No Turning Back (1982); Memoirs for Mother (Birnham Wood Graphics, 2003).

Selected Work
chasing butterflies
a faint breeze rises
with the thunder
was it the dark
we shared
or the candle
your photo
tucked in my survival kit—
hurricane season
Father’s Day—
a potato
without a face
Lahaina dusk—
the sound of a flute
drifting out to sea
the closet door
open a crack
after dark
fears come back
with the crickets
some dimes
among the pennies
speckled carp
autumn chill—
clouds move
a boat for sale
one bead at a time
on an afterlife

Credits: "chasing butterflies" - Modern Haiku 36:3 (2005); "your photo" - 8th Honorable Mention, Hawaii Education Association Contest (2000, Season Word);"Lahaina dusk" - 28th Hawaii Education Association Contest (2006); "after dark" - Modern Haiku 40:1 (2009); "autumn chill" - Runner-up, The Haiku Calendar Competition (2002) The Haiku Calendar 2003 (Snapshot Press, 2002) [a variation—"twilight chill"—appeared in Frogpond 25:1 (2002)]; "was it the dark" - bottle rockets 25 (2011); "Father's Day" - Second Place, Haiku Society of America Gerald Brady Memorial Award (2011); Frogpond 35:1 (2012); "midnight" - Frogpond 25:2 (2002); "some dimes" - Frogpond 28:2 (2005); inside the mirror: The Red Moon Anthology of English-language Haiku 2005 (Red Moon Press, 2006); "one bead at a time" - Frogpond 32:1 (2009); where the wind turns: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2009 (Red Moon Press, 2010); Dreams Wander On: Contemporary Poems of Death Awareness [Robert Epstein, ed.] (Modern English Tanka Press, 2011).

Sources Biography: The Haiku Foundation is grateful to Susan's family for providing biographical information.

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