Susan Mitchell is the author of three collections of poetry, The Water Inside the Water (1983); Rapture (1992), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Book Award; and Erotikon (2000). Her poems have appeared in magazines and journals such as the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Fence, among others. The recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, Mitchell’s other awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation.
Mitchell’s style has been described, by Peter Harris in the Virginia Quarterly Review, as “great flowing, ebullient, praiseful… full of leaps and ravenings after unmediated vision. At frequent enough moments her poems not only proclaim but embody rapture.” David Barber, writing in Poetry about Rapture, noted: “These are not poems that hold steady or smoothly cohere.The restlessness of Mitchell’s intelligence is an agitated response to the unintelligible, her eclecticism an outgrowth of brandished emotion rather than burnished eloquence.”
Mitchell’s poems include outpourings of detail, yet they are rarely organized along neat lines of obvious intention. “She presents layers of detail yet leaves most connections between details largely up to the reader,” stated Robert McDowell in Contemporary Poets. “On many occasions it appears that her poems have an almost aimless quality about them; they can seen laborious, elaborate, and self-conscious in expression.” Mitchell has spoken to her interest in complexity and excess as lyric models. On the Poetry Society of America website Mitchell noted that the poets “that excite me to return to them again and again, all share a single characteristic: they are remarkably attentive. They see, hear, smell, taste and feel more of the world than other poets, and they contrive to pack that moreness into their poems.” Mitchell also remarked on the importance of “innerness” to her work, and the work of poets she admires: “Innerness demands that the reader slow down, take the time, pay attention. Innerness demands that the reader's attentiveness be equal to the attentiveness of the poet and the attentiveness of the poem.”
Mitchell lives in Boca Raton and teaches at Florida Atlantic University, where she holds the Mary Blossom Lee chair in creative writing.