American poetry
David Surette
Contemporary poems



American contemporary poems by David R. Surette
Upcoming poetry readings in the Boston area
Purchase literary works or read poetry samples online


September 16, 2014, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Prime Time Poets

Featuring David R. Surette

Workspace 36
36 Main Street
Amesbury, MA 01913

Plus open Mic

October 19, 2014 3 to 5 PM


Featuring David R. Surette, Nancy Espsito, and Kim Triedman

West Falmouth Library
575 West Falmouth Highway
West Falmouth, MA 02574 01913

Plus open Mic

Friday, November 14, 2014, 7:30pm

Chapter and Verse

Featuring David R. Surette

Loring-Greenough House
12 South Streett
Jamaica Plain


David co-hosted POETRIBE in East Bridgewater, Mass.

Literary Journals and Anthologies

in Off the Coast - Winter, 2013


"Hummels "
in Salamander, Summer 2013
> Salmander


" Beat the Clock at On The Rocks, Falmouth, MA, 1976" and " The Immaculate Conception Mothers� Club " in New Paris Press, August 2011
>New Paris Press


"First Kiss in the Last Field " "On the Day of My Brother's Sentencing "
in Salamander, November 2010
> Salmander


"Writers Block"
in Four and Twenty, June 2010


"The Jam Session"
in Off the Coast - Winter, 2010


Cadence of Hooves: A Celebration
of Horses. This anthology of literary
poetry is the premier collection by
Yarroway Mountain Press and
contains the work of more than
170 contemporary poets with over 300
poems that focus on the relationship
between humans and horses.
The list of contributors include poets
Tess Gallagher, Ilya Kaminsky, Maxine
Kumin, Dorianne Laux, Larry Levis,
Gregory Orr, Molly Peacock, Alberto
Rios, David R. Surette, C. K. Williams,
Henry Taylor, Elaine Terranova, Diane
Thiel, and Daniel Tobin.

For ordering information go to

French Connections:
A Gathering of Franco-American Poets,
(Louisiana Literature Press) - August 2007
French Connections brings together an extraordinary
collection of Franco-American voices in contemporary
poetry. Contributors include Michelle Boisseau,
Henri Cole, John Dufresne, Colette Inez,
Dorianne Laux, Bin Ramke, Chard diNord,
Mark Strand, Chad Parenteau, David R. Surette,
and many others. Each poet prefaces their poems
with a bio about their experiences as a Franco-American
and it makes for great reading.

"The Tryout"
in Literaryspot - January, 2008
Available at
The Poetry Society Cafe, London,
The Poetry Library, London,
The London Review Bookshop, and
The Scottish Poetry Library
Plus's Poem of the Day

"Thor" - Look! Up In The Sky!-
An Anthology of Comic Book Poetry
(Sacred Fools Press) - January 2007

"In the Backyard" - Salamander Spring 2007

"The Empire Grill" - Wolf Moon Press
"Betrayal" - Adagio Verse Quarterly
"Easy to Keep, Hard to Keep In" - Lily


More News

Order Today!

A Bright Soothing Noise (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction) Stories by Peter Brown

On the Hood of Someone Else's Car
Poems by Victoria Bosch Murray

Easy to Keep, Hard to Keep In listed as Highly Recommended at the 8th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards.

Now Available
Murder on Cape Cod by Al Blanchard $19.95 Koenisha Publications (October 25, 2007)

Whisper the Past, a limited edition chapbook of David's poem "Acadie" is on sale at Grande Pre, Nova Scotia, a Canadian Park celebrating the Acadians by telling the story of their lives before and after Le Grande Derangement.

Interview and Poems


Wicked Hard


Koenisha Publications presents a new collection of David's poetry. The book contains 50 new poems. It will be available September 2013 in bookstores, poetry venues, readings, and online ( or email author for signed copy.

>click here to order book from


Praise for

Wicked Hard

"It was her sandwiches/that did me in, made me say,/ I love you . . . In David Surette's intense and chiseled poems, his narrator is the proverbial man of few words. If asked why, I can imagine him replying, "Those are the ones that matter." Surette takes us into his hardscrabble world of an underage rock band begging to play in any bar, of cigarettes burned to the knuckles, Hummel figures, the 3-11 shift, ninth grade hall monitors, and hockey. He sees this world through squinted eyes. In the lovingly desperate words of his narrator, "Most days all we have is a quick look to heaven/then down to earth and we jump!"
Jack Ridl

David Surette's poems are written and sung in his true, real voice. The voice of his Franco-American family, his Boston and in the poetry of human speech we, his fortunate readers, need and trust. He places and finds us in our world of joy and loss--love lost and found. In a state that can smile back at us, when we try wicked hard. In poem after poem, his necessary poems ground us, like a puck in the back of a net, in his known New England, while writing us to a wisdom beyond goals. A poetry that ties the details of our felt lives to a knowledge lived and artistically realized.
Gary Margolis

The Immaculate Conception Mothers' Club


Koenisha Publications presents a new collection of David's poetry. The book contains 60 new poems. It is available November 16, 2010 in bookstores, poetry venues, readings, and online ( and

>click here to order book from


>click here to read a review from the Barnstable Patriot


Praise for

The Immaculate Conception Mothers' Club

These are the poems of a good and decent man, a good husband, father, friend, and the teacher you wish you had had. The poems are vital, accessible, winsome, and alive. Poem by poem we feel as if we are walking through the days with Surette, his poetic sensibilities fully attuned to each moment, as his wife wraps his sweatshirt around a beached loon and takes it back to a creek to set it free, as his brother tells him hard medical news at a Bruins' game, as one of his former students now back from Iraq spills his heart out in a bar looking for someone to fight. There is something distinctly American about these poems. They are filled with that longing and restlessness as they look hard at loneliness, loyalty, loss, and redemption. In one poem he writes about a month of "rosary risings," in which he and his wife awake, "one whispering, "I'm still here," the other answering, "So am I." You can find that affirmation here. You can find your life in these poems.
John Hodgen, author of Grace

In the preface to his Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth famously called for a poetry that sounds like a man speaking to men. If you translate that aesthetic from his day to the blue collar New England towns of our own then you'll be able to hear and celebrate the blunt-edged, dramatic lyricism of David Surette's The Immaculate Conception Mothers' Club. By turns praising, funny, heartbreaking and combative, Surette's poems sing without apology in the vital language of his working class upbringing in Malden, Massachusetts. "I hope you hear my neighborhood. / My hometown. / My mother and father. / Grandmothers and grandfathers. / School and church. / The rink and the playing fields. / The Irish and Acadian, / Fishermen and farmers. / Gaelic and French," so he addresses pugnaciously the privileged poetry teacher in "Weekend Workshop" who can hear only the strains of a gas station attendant in his voice--"Regulah or high test?" True to itself and its origins, deeply human, Surette's voice IS "gas," as the Irish say, full of the kind of poetic energy that takes you places. Definitely high test.
Daniel Tobin, author of The Narrows and Second Things

Easy to Keep, Hard to Keep In


Koenisha Publications presents a new collection of David's poetry. The book contains 51 new poems. It is available in bookstores, poetry venues, readings, and online ( and

>click here to order book from


Young Gentlemen's School


Koenisha Publications presents a collection of David's poetry, including all the poems from his three chapbooks plus ten new ones. It is available in bookstores, poetry venues, readings, and online ( and

>click here to order book from


Poetry Available On-Line


Good Shift
Third chapbook with more poems on love, god, hockey, horses, Malden…
>click here for selected poems


contemporary American poems

American Poetry
David's second chapbook.
>click here for selected poems


Nova Scotia poems

Whisper the Past
Poems about Nova Scotia,
the search for Surettes.
>click here for selected poems


poems about Malden an American city
A Chapbook about growing up in Malden, Massachusetts.
>click here for selected poems

Praise for Easy to Keep, Hard to Keep in

The horse knows why it runs.

The horse remembers

arrows in its hide,

cart and carriage,

plow and harness,

mine shaft and battlefield

The first time I read these lines I penciled in the margin next to them, Steal this! I found myself doing the same thing again and again as I kept reading. There's a music and an inevitability and a crystal clarity to David Surette's work that makes me grateful.

- George Bilgere

These are fresh, incisive poems that sparkle with the salt of the everyday. Surette writes with a quick, acquisitive eye and self-effacing voice that invites his reader into the small but resonant dramas of his childhood, his adult family life and his job as a high school English teacher in eastern Massachusetts. With a remarkable lack of "irritable reaching", Surette records the vivid, quotidian narratives of his life with a universal, direct appeal.

- Chard deNiord

David Surette is a steward of humility in its many forms: from his blue-collar Acadian roots to his lowly yet noble farm animals. With charm and affability, yet neither of these at the cost of implicit depth, this collection impresses by setting out to do just the opposite: simply and un-self-consciously befriending the reader.

- Frannie Lindsay

In EASY TO KEEP, HARD TO KEEP IN, David R. Surette continues to mine a life rooted in small New England towns, and brings up gold. His subtle wit, his precision of eye and ear and language lay bare universal truths of living in this world. Through these poems his town becomes our town, our home, and it is with joy and gratitude that this reader keeps returning to them

- Kevin Goodan

Praise for Good Shift

I like his poems a good deal — they're sharp and lucid and look outward as well as inward. I can hear them as human speech and I bet he reads them well out loud. They work on the reader’s or listener's pulse, the only true test as far as I'm (and also Mr. Keats) concerned.

- Thomas Lux, poet, author of The Cradle Place (Houghton Mifflin, 2004); The Street of Clocks; New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995

Praise for Muckers, Grinders, Shapers, Hangers, Hackers, and Huns:

"I was late for work today because I picked up this book and it wouldn't let me go. First it was a baby watching a monarch mobile in sunlight, then the pony that wouldn't let the rider work out his frustrations, the smells in the car the guys always used, the house where every room had a name. Fortunately, it's a small book. I only missed one class."

- Michael Brown, poet, professor, host of The Boston Poetry Slam, author of The Falling Wallendas, Susquehanna and The Man Who Makes Amusement Rides.

"Where are the edges, dangerous and beautiful, that ask and answer?" The edges David Surette searches for can be found in Muckers, Grinders, Shapers, Hangers, Hackers, and Huns, his latest collection of poems. Surette navigates language as surely as his daughter sits "The Tryout" pony. This is poetry.

- Valerie Lawson, poet, author of Ribbon Anvil, co-host of The Boston Poetry Slam

For Malden…

This is a man after my own heart. Dave writes exactly the kind of poems I would write if I could just write shorter poems. He writes about real things in real words. He writes about the people he grew up with, and they sound exactly like the same people we all grew up with. But, somehow, out of all that feels so familiar and often so funny, he draws your eye with seeming effortlessness to the surprising and the poignant. He tells the stories we have been overlooking in our lives.

- Jack McCarthy, poet, author of Grace Notes, Breaking Down Outside a Gas Station - Live CD, and Say Good Night, Grace Notes

David has a wonderful wit and evokes the terrible and triumphant life of kids. "And me I was just another prisoner."

- Pat Schneider, poet, author, playwright, librettist, founder/director of the Amherst Writers & Artists.

Boys Life with brother John Surette

David was the chief lyricist for the popular Boston band Boys Life.

>click here for Boys Life

©Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 David R. Surette. All rights reserved.
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