Karavan Press title: Slaughterhouse by Melissa Sussens

Cover artwork: Sue Greeff

Cover design: Stephen Symons

“A brave, searing collection. Out of a difficult year of compulsory service at a slaughterhouse, Sussens has forged a plain–spoken, lyrical poetic voice able to ‘gut truth, / exhume the body of memory.’ Whether chronicling the forging of a queer sexual identity, the loss of innocence or its renewal through requited love and poetry itself, these unflinching poems refuse to be forgotten. In response to the inevitable risk of loving, she writes: ‘Sometimes I wish / I never knew the word merge …’ All the more poignant, then, that the collection should bear witness to precisely such points of fraught, perilous contact between self and world. A remarkable body of work that will sustain many rereadings.”

– Jacques Coetzee, author of An Illuminated Darkness

“Blood animates and stains these remarkable poems, but Melissa Sussens asks us not to look away. Slaughterhouse is a hauntingly powerful debut. We get to see a poet grapple with ongoing legacies of vulnerability and violence, death and desire, all while experimenting cleverly with form. Some of these poems dripped off the page and stayed with me for days – I loved them.”

– Maneo Mohale, author of Everything is a Deathly Flower

“‘I watched death’ is the first line of Melissa Sussens’s debut collection. Never have I trusted a poet more to guide me by way of a book than I do Melissa – who has worked both in a veterinary clinic and a slaughterhouse. Fluent in the message that is at the core of art – we die – Sussens’s poetry is a relentless reminder in the utter thrill and sacredness of living. These poems find both the slaughter and the house, the home, in all the scenes of a life: from stalking an ex on Instagram, to coming out to your mother, to biting your nails, to girlhood, to loving in the
face of bigotry. Of course this book will encourage readers to reckon with the humanity of animals, but what’s unexpected is the way it will help us acknowledge both the beast and the fawn, the Grim Reaper and the Angel of Death, within ourselves. Melissa brings her vocational history into these pieces at the line level – with lyricism oscillating between both brutal blade and gentle hand at once. I have never read any book like it.”
– Megan Falley, author of Drive Here and Devastate Me

Publication date: November 2022

ISBN: 978–1–7764064–5–6

Also available on Kindle: Slaughterhouse by Melissa Sussens

MELISSA SUSSENS is a queer veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in many publications, both locally and internationally. She placed 2nd in the 2020 New Contrast National Poetry Prize and was amongst the winners of the ClemenGold Writing Competition. She was selected for the Poetry for Human Rights anthology, Between the Silence, in 2021, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Melissa has performed at the Poetry in McGregor festival, Off The Wall, The Commons and The Red Wheelbarrow, where she also hosts poetry readings. She lives in Cape Town with her wife and their two dogs. Slaughterhouse is her first book. Find her at www.melissasussens.com.

Author photograph: Winston Sussens

Avbob Poetry: A creative lifeline in Women’s Month

This month, Avbob Poetry is celebrating women poets: “Melissa Sussens is a debut poet, writing strong and tender work about women’s reality – their love, mercy at work, and the relentless struggle against gender-based violence.”

You can read an interview with her here: A lifeline of creation in Women’s Month – with Melissa Sussens    

Melissa’s debut collection of poetry, Slaughterhouse, will be published by Karavan Press.

Melissa Sussens to publish her debut collection of poetry with Karavan Press

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Melissa Sussens will be publishing her superbly crafted debut poetry collection, Slaughterhouse, with Karavan Press later this year. I have been reading Melissa’s poetry across literary magazines and the web for about two years now and it has always moved and inspired me. It will be a joy to share it with readers in book form. Poetry lovers are in for a true literary treat!

Melissa Sussens is a queer veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in Stanzas Poetry Magazine, SFWP Quarterly and Isele Magazine, among many others. She has performed at the Poetry In McGregor festival, Off The Wall and The Red Wheelbarrow where she also hosts poetry readings. Melissa placed 2nd in the New Contrast National Poetry Prize and was amongst the winners of the ClemenGold Writing Competition in 2020. She was selected for the Poetry for Human Rights anthology, Between the Silence, in 2021 and has been nominated for Best of the Net. By day she works as a small animal veterinarian and whenever she’s not doctoring animals, she can be found immersed in writing, editing, or reading poems. Melissa lives in Cape Town with her fiancée and their two dogs. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @melissasussens.