Every time I post something by Joyce Sutphen, I get email of the 'where have you been all my life' sort. 'You' being her, of course.
She's every bit as good as Mary Oliver or Sharon Olds. Big literary shoes, bold claims, yes.
Her two best books are Straight Out of View and Coming Back to the Body, both published by New Rivers Press. Although I once heard her read on A Prairie Home Companion, she's an artist who hasn't gotten the acclaim she deserves.
I often think of Mary Dutton, who wrote one heart-shattering book which was published in 1967: Thorpe. How much do I love this book? John and I were locked in mortal combat over naming our only daughter.
Thorpe or Scarlett.
Either way, we were saddling her. Thorpe doesn't fall easily on the ear. Scarlett carries much cultural freight, heavy with both race and gender.
Of course, we gave her the cultural freight and prettier name. And it suits her.
Anyway, I think about Mary Dutton quite a bit. The book's back jacket tells me she was s a housewife, volunteer and sometimes teacher with three children. Took her ten years to write that book.
Sounds awfully familiar.
That was in 1967. Where was her fame? Her acclaim? I hope she enjoyed some small spotlight during her lifetime. Thorpe is every bit as good as To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe better.
So here's my shout to the under-appreciated artists, the ones with the gift who don't get tapped by fame.
You will thank me if you read any of these three books, too.