Suzanne OndrusCreative Writing, Poetry
Suzanne Ondrus’ work explores cultures, identity, history, gender issues, racism, and women’s sexuality. Her first book, Passion Seeds, won the 2013 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Poetry Prize for Women, and its contest judge, Richard Harteis, in an introduction to the book writes: “These poems speak to both what we want to keep invisible, such as shame and racism and speak to what we want visible, desire and love. … Ondrus taps into both the dream world and reality so that the invisible becomes visible and audible.”
Changes: Suzanne was the 2013 Reed Magazine Markham Poetry Prize winner, a 2017 UNESCO World Book Capital featured poet in Guinea, Conakry, a 2018-2020 Fulbright Scholar to Burkina Faso, West Africa, and will be a 2022-2023 English Language Fellow to Nigeria. Her book, Death of an Unvirtuous Woman, is about a real story of domestic violence in a German immigrant couple in 1881 in Wood County, Ohio (near Toledo); this book is available from Finishing Line Press.
One of Suzanne’s proposed teaching projects includes creative writing in the foreign language being studied, such as Spanish, French, or Italian. Creating artistic works in foreign languages empowers students and shows them that a language is alive. Language and cultural immersion shape Suzanne’s own artistic vision. She speaks French, Spanish, German, and Italian fluently, and is conversant in Slovenian, Russian, and Moore (a language of Burkina Faso). She has written poems in French, Spanish, and Italian. She has worked in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Russia, Benin, Ghana, Uganda, Italy, and Germany and can present cultural exposure programs in conjunction with her poetry that traces the history of transcontinental desire from Burkina Faso, to Benin, to Russia, and to Ohio.
Another proposed teaching project she offers is speaking on racism, sexism, gender issues, or domestic violence with her poetry on these subjects. Poetry often serves as a vehicle to open conversation on difficult or taboo topics. She has taught women’s studies, sexual harassment training, queer studies, creative writing, and edited poetry, film scripts, and fiction manuscripts. She holds a PhD from the University of Connecticut, an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and an MA from Binghamton University.
Grade Levels/Age Groups
- Grades 9-12
- Young Adults
- Older Adults
- Refugee and immigrant communities
Facilities and Resources Required
- Performance Space
- Lakeland Community College
- University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso, West Africa)
- Cleveland Site Center
- FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers’ Association
- John Carroll University
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cleveland State University
- Kent State University
Chagrin Falls Ohio