On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Sacred Heart University Department of Languages & Literatures, along with the Multicultural Center, held a literary spotlight event with special guest Susana Cuartas-Ordonéz, as she read from her inaugural book “Midnight Café.” This collection of lyrical poems introduces an original new voice in contemporary American poetry.
The Literary Spotlight reading series is held each fall. It brings to campus writers who are beginning to establish themselves and who are on the way to what will be distinguished writing careers.
“Susana is such a writer, and when she published ‘Midnight Café,’ her first book, we immediately invited her to return to Sacred Heart to launch her exciting collection here,” said Professor Jonas Zdanys, bilingual Poet in Residence and English Professor.
Cuartas-Ordonéz has been performing spoken word and poetry since the age of 16. Her mom always believed in her as a writer and trusted her when going out as a young girl on the streets of New York City to perform at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
Cuartas-Ordonéz graduated from Sacred Heart in 2018 majoring in psychology and a minor in creative writing. Her poems explore the highs and lows that love can bring, specifically focusing on the pain of the past brought on by an unnamed lost love.
“If there is one thing I want ‘Midnight Café’ to stand for, it would be the importance of showing human emotion,” said Cuartas-Ordonéz.
“Now all I’ve got to show for it is a rib cage looking like a graffiti wall from all the times she’s left me so, I apologize, to those who will love me after this for they will have a hard time building a home here amongst all this wreckage, but yeah I’m a young kid,” said Cuartas-Ordonéz in her poem “Being Honest for Once.”
Born from immigrant parents and raised in Connecticut, she started writing when she was in high school for annual poetry slam competitions. She continues to reside in Conn., where she currently works as a social worker.
What started as a class presentation for Cuartas-Ordonéz ended up three years later in the publication of a book.
“Susana began ‘Midnight Café’ in an independent study course she took with me. As she expanded and revised that manuscript, it became her first book. I know it is the first of many splendid books to come,” said Zdanys. “‘Midnight Café’ is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.”
Cuartas-Ordonéz began the event by reading one of the very first poems she ever wrote called “New York City Lover.”
“A lot of these poems are 10 years in the making and have been with me longer than others,” said Cuartas-Ordonéz. “New York is a second home to me, it’s every writer’s typical dream where everything happens.”
“I believe Susana is brilliant and her work is outstanding. After each of her poems I felt so inspired to go and write my own poetry book. I definitely will be purchasing her book soon,” said senior Sara Terpak.
To stay updated on her work, follow Susana Cuartas-Ordonéz on Instagram and Twitter @sc_wordsmith.