I’m a writer and plant biologist inspired by terraphilia, our species’ inborn love of the Earth and the planet’s web of lives. My calling is to inspire you to find spiritual & creative nourishment in deepening your relationship with this living planet. To open your eyes and heart to the “other,” whether other people or other species. To show you the wonder and awe in the wildness around us—the sacred in the ordinary. And through that to help you find your best and kindest self, your whole self, one able to live with love and compassion for all with whom we share this planet (starting with you!).
I’m also a hands-on restorer of nature. I’ve rehabbed urban streams, removed invasive weeds in Yellowstone Park, re-wilded blighted industrial properties, and designed pollinator- and bird-friendly landscapes in parks and gardens. (Read more.)
Bless the Birds is a wondrous gift. —Colorado Central magazine
Bless the Birds
Living with Love in a Time of Dying
As Susan and Richard navigate the unfamiliar territory of brain cancer treatment and learn a whole new vocabulary―craniotomies, adjuvant chemotherapy, and brain geography―they also develop new routines for a mindful existence, relying on each other and their connection to nature, including the real birds Richard enjoys watching. Their determination to walk hand in hand, with open hearts, results in profound and difficult adjustments in their roles.
Writer Susan Tweit and her economist-turned-sculptor husband Richard Cabe had just settled into their version of a “good life” when Richard saw thousands of birds one day―harbingers of the brain cancer that would kill him two years later. This compelling and intimate memoir chronicles their journey into the end of his life, framed by their final trip together, a 4,000-mile-long delayed honeymoon road trip.
Bless the Birds is not a sad story. It is both prayer and love song, a guide to how to thrive in a world where all we hold dear seems to be eroding, whether simple civility and respect, our health and safety, or the Earth itself. It’s an exploration of living with love in a time of dying―whether personal or global―with humor, unflinching courage, and grace. And it is an invitation to choose to live in light of what we love, rather than what we fear.
Reading Bless the Birds left me awed and shaken. Tweit writes with the fascination of a scientist and the lucidity of a poet. In these pages her heart swings open wide, opening the rest of ours with her. —Craig Childs, author of Virga & Bone, The Secret Language of Water, and other books
I loved this book. I needed this book. I drank it in huge gulps. I shouted at the book, and I hugged it to my chest. Above all, I learned from this book: Courage comes only to those who are afraid. Grief comes only to those who love deeply. Birds come only to those who lift their eyes. Grace comes only to those who give themselves up for lost. Bless the Birds is a rare gift.
—Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Earth’s Wild Music, Holdfast, and other books
News & Events
Bless the Birds wins the Sarton Women’s Book Award for memoir! The Sarton Awards are named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women’s literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet. The Sarton Awards honor the lives of women and are limited to books published by independent authors and publishers.
I’ve won other awards, but this one is especially meaningful to me because it honors one my literary “she-roes,” a woman who laid a trail for so many women writers. Thank you, Story Circle and She Writes Press!
RECENT BLOG & PODCAST APPEARANCES (View the whole list here):
The Pen and The Sword interview program on KVNF radio
Listen in as Taya Jae of KVNF community public radio and I talk memoir, writing process, and how Bless the Birds came to be the story it is. Taya is an interviewer in the van of Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air: she read the book, looked up my work, and asked thoughtful and insightful questions. I really enjoyed our conversation! Listen here.
Book Launch conversation with award-winning novelist Ashley Sweeney for her new novel, Hardland (which I highly recommend!). Ashley and I talked tackling tough subjects in fiction because while Hardland is set in Arizona territory in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the story deals with domestic violence and the choices women made in those times to be independent. Our wide-ranging conversation covered what inspires realistic fiction, how Ashley researches her subjects and the places her stories occur, and hearing the voices of your characters. It’s like a mini-course in novel writing! Listen here.
National Association of Memoir Writers online conversation series
If you missed my virtual conversation with Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, where we talked about the backstory behind Bless the Birds, you can watch the video here. It was a delight to talk with Linda Joy and to be part of NAMW’s ongoing series of authors discussing memoir and how we create meaning from our stories. (Vimeo may ask you to register, but you can just ignore that and watch our conversation without registering.)
“Learn. Fail. Grow.” That’s part of the creative action plan for award-winning writer and Susan J. Tweit. In this episode of Emerging Form, we continue our Soul Food Series and talk with Susan about the importance of reflection–how writing not only helps us to meet difficult moments, but also helps us to find “deeper levels and better understanding” as time passes. We talk about the process of reflection and how it leads our writing toward the universal. As Susan says, “Without reflection, what’s the point?”