Susanna Childress grew up both in the Philippines and along the United States’ Ohio River, in a region known as Kentuckiana. She began writing short stories and poetry at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she received a BA in Writing and Literature, and continued to graduate school in Texas and Florida, earning her Master’s and PhD, respectively, in Creative Writing. In 2005, she published her first book of poetry, married musician Joshua Banner (MCS ’12), honeymooned in Vancouver, and took a poetry course with Josh at Regent. The couple began writing songs during their long-distance engagement; together they form the band Ordinary Neighbors, with work based on Susanna’s writing and Josh’s musical talent. Their first full-length CD, titled The Necessary Dark, was released late in 2012. They currently live in Holland, Michigan, with their children, dogs, a fish, and a worm farm. Visit her website here.
I create because some things cannot come out any other way. Writing connects me to human experience(s), my own and others’. Reading is similar, in a slightly more passive (though no less meaningful) way. What are we connecting to? To what makes us alive. And to abstractions. To joy, fear, doubt, awe, all in spectacularly specific, tangible, human, fleshy ways. Writing, whether sonnet or short story or song, is using the stuff of everyday—words, sounds—to connect to something I could not otherwise. The more fully alive I am, the more reverence I have for being God’s creature—this very particular creation. Writing makes me more in love, more aware of grace. Trying to capture a finger dipped in honey, the moon, or a botched haircut feels like a kind of prayer. Even describing what is harsh, the raw and ugly, pulls me outside of myself in a realm of bigness. Often I’m doing this unawares, reaching beyond, reaching for the holy. When Josh and I write songs together, though, when we’re both in a place of “pressing in,” it’s easier to appreciate the quiet little crevice that opens up. A song like “Ontario” did not start out a poem but a melody (for which I credit Josh). We sang it into being over several nights, returning to the dual sensations of wonder and grief wrapped up in place and seasons and good art. Of longing for God and loving what is human, all at once.