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Susan Elizabeth McCaslin was born June 3, 1947. In 1969 she received her BA in English Literature from the University of Washington. She continued her education completing a MA in English Literature from Simon Fraser University in 1973, her graduate thesis focused on Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Poetics, and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1984, she received a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in English Literature, Twentieth-Century Poetry and Vernon Watkins.
McCaslin held several teaching roles at various institutions and taught workshops and programs independently. Between 1969 and 1984 she was a Teaching Assistant (SFU, 1969-71; UBC, 1984-1985), Sessional Lecturer (UVIC, 1973-1974, UBC 1977-1981), Instructor (Trinity Western College, 1974-1976), Substitute Teacher (Surrey School Board, 1976-1977) and Assistant Professor (Trent University, 1984) within English Departments. From 1984 to 2007 she was an English and Creative Writing Instructor at Douglas College in New Westminster and Coquitlam, B.C. She taught a variety of first and second-year courses and was active on committees, task forces and Boards at the College. McCaslin also developed, organized and facilitated various workshops between 2008 and 2009, including “Magical Mystics Tour”, “Into the Mystic”, and on the songs and poetry of Leonard Cohen, among others.
Susan McCaslin’s literary pursuits began at an early age, she has authored numerous poems, essays, book chapters, reviews, non-fiction works, children’s books, and edited several poetry anthologies and collections. She has received several literary awards and recognition, within competitions and for her published works, including the Alberta Book Publishing Award (2012), and finalist for the BC Book Prize.
In 1969, McCaslin was introduced to Mary Olga Park, a contemporary Christian mystic living along the Burrard Inlet in Port Moody, BC. Park served as McCaslin’s spiritual mentor and friend until Park’s death in 1985. Mary Olga Park’s poetry, writing and focus on mystical and esoteric streams of Christianity encouraged McCaslin on her poetry path. McCaslin’s poetry has evolved to a more inter-spiritual and global perspective of the sacred, influenced by her studies in Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Indigenous traditions and Chinese and Japanese literature.
She has maintained memberships in several writers associations, community organizations and professional societies. She was on the Board of Directors of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada (2001-2003) and Event Magazine (2006-2017). She maintains a membership with the Federation of BC Writers, League of Canadian Poets, and The Writer’s Union of Canada. She currently resides in Fort Langley, BC, where she initiated the Han Shan Poetry Project in 2012 combining her interest in poetry and environmental activism. The project gathered Canadian poets, scientists, musicians and visual artists to draw public attention and protect a rain forest near the Fraser River. McCaslin continues to write and is currently working on various projects to be published.
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Created by Andréa Tarnawsky in November 2017.
Updated by Marion Arnott in March 2023.