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The Screaming Middle: a memoir in verse of a very strange year

This is a memoir of a woman turning 50 who forgot to have a party. It takes you on road trips, into psych wards, into the chambers of marriage and through epic failures, brilliant ideas and back to kingdoms of chaos and castles of hilarity. There’s a lot of bitching and loving, a lot of fights and great nights. It’s Orwellian in its frank and unforgiving expedition through life’s hardships and glories. If you thought you needed Little Golden Books when you were young then think no more about trading up to the solid gold of The Screaming Middle: the novel cure we all need.

ISBN 97819215231335 (PB, 110pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 97819215231342 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $10 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7



Susan Bradley Smith is a cunning, beguiling writer.  All of life in all its immediacy and complexity is here, delivered in verse of seeming simplicity and great virtuosity. The Screaming Middle rewards on every level.
– Andrew Cowan

These plein air postcards of love, rage and lust for life are as luminous and fleeting as 9 by 5s, only we are in a car breaking down somewhere, or trawling for finds or cooking up a storm. She effortlessly blends an unpretentious erudition with the sound of now. What a rare delight and pleasure it is to encounter her ferocious care of everything.
– Lucy Dougan

One hardly knows what to write (or what to think) after surfacing from the maelstrom of The Screaming Middle. Perhaps – ‘Kebang!’ And then – ‘Enough.’ What a killer ride through A Year In The Life Of … (which way is up?) Mind, it is screamingly funny, then, whacko! lets rip with howl after howl of anguish, then, susurrates with tenderest apprehensions. Some daredevil poet, this one is.
– Jennifer Compton

Susan Bradley Smith’s The Screaming Middle is a remarkable study of the contradictions of time. While a novel on the occasion of a fiftieth year–two great lenses through which to experience time–the work itself is composed of small fragments of glass, each piece reflecting all the other pieces. It is brilliant in its mastery of the Japanese Tanka form (Tan: short, Ka: poem) and an affirmation of the mosaic real life–in all its messiness–seems to assemble on its own.”
– David Keplinger, Professor of Poetry, American University

Susan Bradley Smith

Susan Bradley Smith lives mostly in Australia, where she is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Curtin University. She began her writing life as a rock journalist in Sydney and London before becoming a theatre historian. Her most recent books are the poetry collection Beds For All Who Come, and the memoir Friday Forever. In 2013 Susan founded the writing and wellbeing consultancy Milkwood Bibliotherapy, and she is an advocate for Arts and Health. Her favorite things usually involve the ocean and her secret ambition is to swim in every ocean pool in Australia.


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Happy birthday to me on earth: the 50th return

I should be bright green

and lost in space, kissing stars

just to lose my lips,

burning off fifty off-beam

years, but here I am—branded.

Surfing safari just to prove I’m not dead

When you paddle out

there is no end to the lust,

no end to wave’s loose-

lipped pash: there is only you,

this, and your migrating soul.

Sunday drive in September

The street where we once

lived looked warped and weedy, thus

losing its hostage

hold on me, despite its gold-

crusted memories (now dust).


Ballina airport

luggage carousel knows too

well my tired agony:

too much baggage, too many

dreams of tinfoiled surfboards: cracked.

Us watching the kids swim (Hallelujah)

Love like squeaked cotton

becomes us beneath the wild-

fingered trees as we

inhale clouds and worship the

lake which christens our children.


He’s my cousin, he

who turns back boats like old

girlfriends panting on

Facebook or unwanted knocks

on late night doors: red secret.

Us (afterwards)

It’s like reaching through

glass to history to find you

and though I do and

it’s real, perfect, the strangest

thing is that haunt of not was.

Sibling song (morning)

I saw my brother

from my bedroom window, he

was walking his dog

at fiveish after the night’s

rain, along satin ocean.

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