Susan Eisenberg, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, is a poet, visual artist, and oral historian, who works within and across genres. Her work re-imagines the everyday, playing with scale and juxtaposition to investigate issues of power and social policy. She earned the University of Michigan’s first B.A. in Women’s Studies, before moving to Boston. She is currently a Resident Artist/Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University, where her projects focus on medical humanities and employment equity.
Introduced to the craft of poetry by Denise Levertov, Eisenberg is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and taught for a decade at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Author of four poetry collections, her most recent book, Perpetual Care, includes fourteen fine art photographs. Her poems are widely anthologized; her essays have appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Engineering News-Record, Utne Reader and others. On Equal Terms, her 900-square-foot installation combining poetry with 3-D mixed media, audio, photography, found objects, and artifacts, has been exhibited in galleries in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York.
Entering the construction industry in 1978, at the start of affirmative action, Eisenberg was among the first women to become a licensed, journey-level electrician in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and worked fifteen years on Boston-area construction sites. In 1991, she began to interview other tradeswomen pioneers from across the United States. Those oral histories became the basis for her nonfiction book, We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction, selected as a New York Times Notable Book and developed into a feature film screenplay (unproduced) by MGM. Through her writing, art, and activism, she helped shape the cultural expression and analytical thinking of the tradeswomen’s movement nationally and internationally, speaking at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.. A consultant on employment equity, she is a recipient of the Samuel Gompers Union Leadership Award from City University of New York, and served on the Planning Committee of the First National IBEW Womenʼs Conference.
Her work has been awarded a “Freedom and Justice for All” grant from Mass Humanities, as well as grants from the Berger-Marks Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Poets & Writers, the 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Fund, Tavris Fund, Tyre Fund, AAUW, and three writing fellowship at Hedgebrook. Eisenberg was a member of the collective that, in the early 1970s, operated the Somerville Women’s Health Project, a free clinic for women and their families. She was Artistic Director of Word of Mouth Productions, a touring women’s theater company; and, for ten years, directed Women in History, a performance workshop combining theater and oral history, sponsored by the Boston Public Library.
She will be the 2016-2017 Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist at the University of Michigan.
Susan Eisenberg is available for poetry readings, workshops, exhibitions, and talks. Contact.