November 26, 2008

Susan Edwards, longtime friend, artist, poet, Naropa University ‘foremother’ & elephant journal columnist, has passed away. Please send her well-wishes & do tonglen for her.

Susan Edwards.

Biography, via Maron Greenleaf:

Susan Holleley Edwards
April 9, 1943 – November 25, 2008

Susan Edwards of Boulder passed away shortly before noon on November 25 in the presence of her partner of 28 years, Denny Robertson, and two old friends.

Susan was born in Chicago to George Edwards and Galdys Mitchell Edwards on April 9, 1943. She moved to Boulder in 1978 after completing a Masters degree in English and American Literature at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana.


She was many things to many people: an artist, teacher, counselor, mentor, student, and dear friend. As an artist, she worked in many mediums including photography, printmaking, ceramics, poetry and prose, pen and ink, and bookmaking. This work was displayed at venues including the museums of contemporary art in Boulder and Denver. Her written work has been published, including The Wild West Wind/Remembering Allen Ginsberg, performed, and printed in publications like Elephant Journal. Susan and her partner Denny cultivated a wonderful garden, which many Boulderites were able to visit as part of the Eccentric Garden Tour.

Susan taught at both Naropa University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is remembered for encouraging precise yet creative thought and expression and helping her students and those she mentored find what they loved in life. Susan counseled many students, clients, and friends through the difficult and joyful times of their lives. An avid student herself, Susan studied the sacred teachings of many traditions including Tibetan Buddhism, Judaism, and Western mysticism. Always offering a fresh perspective, she thought on a level deeper and different than most.

She was a beloved member of many communities and will be dearly missed by her many friends and companions from her 30 years in Boulder. She is survived by her partner Denny Robertson, her brother Robert Upman, her sister Mary Huck, her niece Holly Lewis, her goddaughter Maron Greenleaf, and her two cats Gorbi and Boo. Tributes to Susan can be found online at elephant journal (elephantjournal.com) and The Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (chronicleproject.com). Services in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition will be held at the Boulder Shambhala Center (1345 Spruce St.) at 5pm on Friday, November 28. All who knew Susan are welcome. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Boulder Shambhala Center.


Susan Edwards died this morning at 11:50 a.m. MST at her home in Boulder, Colorado.
At her side was her partner, Denny Robertson, her god-child, Maron Greenleaf, and her life long friend, Muffie Noble.

Please continue to hold Susan and Denny and family in your tonglen practice.

Susan and Denny.

Below: Maron Greenleaf, ex-elephant journal editor, Dharma Brat—and goddaughter to Susan and Denny (at left):

Denny, Maron, Susan.

The below is via Waylon Lewis, editor of elephantjournal.com, for which Susan was a principal columnist for the last four years.

Only a few months after our friend Denise passed away, I just heard two nights ago standing out on Pearl Street in the dark that Susan Edwards was, suddenly, near death. This morning, she died.

Who was Susan? She helped to create Naropa University, back in the day. She was an artist, a Boulder original, a godmother to one of my best friends. I knew her as a sort of fierce, caring aunt. She was always so supportive of me and my efforts with starting up this little, independent Trungpa-inspired magazine. She always saw the best in me (and, I suspect, everyone), even as she kept me honest with her wry smile and wild pronouncements upon reality. A skilled artist and characterful writer—her voice came through loud and clear—I’m frankly depressed and angry she won’t be around to see me run for City Council, as we’d discussed, to see me make elephant a success, as she’d tried to help me do, to sit with her at the Trident or see her randomly around town.

Well, here’s a link to one of her articles. Here’s another. She did a great one, with amazing illustrations from a book of hers, on her friendship with and admiration of Beat Buddhist poet Allen Ginsberg, once, but we don’t got that online yet—you can however buy the book she wrote, Wild West Wind, there’s 24 copies left at time of writing. She wrote (and illustrated) many more for me and elephant’s readers, but they’re not all posted online, yet. We’ll rectify that soon.

What’s important, now, however, is to send her your best wishes—whether you knew her or no, if you had some connection with her through her salty, fun, snarky and loving “Astrolophants” in ele over the last few years.

How do you do tonglen, traditionally done for loved ones near or far when they’re in need or in ill-health? Click here.

To the Noble Sangha,

Susan Edwards of Boulder is very ill.

She has been actively treating a rare inflammatory breast cancer for some months with good results until last Wednesday when pain, exhaustion, and shortness of breath brought her to the Hospice Residential Care Center. Because she has affirmed repeatedly that she would never elect western-style treatments, she qualified for full Medicare support for Hospice home health care. The plan was to get her pain medications and oxygen support stabilized over a couple of days of residential care. We intended to bring her home and resume her well-crafted alternative treatments. However, the relief found in the generous Hospice care gave her support to give up the fight. Only days later, the diagnosis is end-stage. She is intermittently awake only a few hours a day, communicating only with great difficulty, drinking and eating little.

She is pleased to be home, supported by family and visiting Hospice nursing. She is comfortable and mostly pain and anxiety-free. She thanks us all for our concern but cannot invite visitors with what little energy she has remaining.

For an immediate update on her condition you may call Leigh Collings at 303-931-7095. Written updates will follow every other day on Sangha Announce. Please do not call or visit her home where she is resting and in good care.

Please include her and her family in your prayers and Tonglen practice as she prepares to make her journey.

Thank you, Denny Robertson

Photo courtesy Brian Spielmann:

I just received the below writings of Susan via her publisher and friend, Jennifer. ~ W.


My name is Jennifer Heath. Susan Edwards is one of my oldest and dearest friends. I’m writing to tell you that I very much appreciate the exquisite write-up you did about her. Another friend sent me the link. Thank you so much.

I am the publisher of Baksun Books, a tiny imprint here in Boulder. I published Susan’s book about Allen. It’s called The Wild West Wind. It is a charming, beautiful little creation. (I noted you didn’t have the title, so here it is.)

In 2007, I also published an anthology called “Uncontained: Writers and Photographers in the Garden and the Margins.” It includes a poem that Susan and I worked on together (she was very tired at the time, so we collaborated) that is comprised of excerpts from the columns she was writing for Elephant. I have attached it. Please feel free to use it.

In peace and with love for Susan,

The Seasons

Winter Solstice
Conundrums for those who aren’t afraid of the dark.
Save us from suffering, loneliness
and the usual confusion.
Darkness has its uses.

Spring Equinox
Creativity. The return of this generating force.
“Together” alludes us moment to moment.
Our strategy for unceasing comfort and affluence has resulted in global toastiness.
Will there be more chances to test our mettle,
the courage it takes to be a generous earthling?
Spring challenges and cuts through our chilly cynicism.
We didn’t mean to be such poor apprentices or stewards of our global bunkhouse.
Leap, bound, vault, and hop over haunting melancholy.
The bunkhouse is a mansion with accommodation and water for all.

Summer Equinox
Stones of fire.
Time of garden splendor.
Everyone seeks the heat of the sun.
To forget everything in the bright, blinding light.
Are we beset with original sin?
Are we here to liberate the karma of passion, aggression, and ignorance?
Does Zeus hate us?
Can we atone for our bad behavior?
Is there anyone out there who can do this for us?
We are making war in the Garden of Eden.
We are here to tend and protect the garden.
Why is this so difficult?
Tomatoes ripen.
Amazing how many chances we get to make a good gazpacho.
Who said paradise is unregainable?
Dancing on fiery stones.

Autumn Equinox
The harvest season is upon us.
The world’s wheat harvest is low again.
Harvest of violence besets the Middle East.
Nightmares in the name of God.
This harvest of drought and violence has a bad affect on my sense of humor.
Our resistance is stubborn.
Our hearts are stones.
Our projections a merciless black mirror.
How deep do we have to go?
May the grapes be sweet and Mother Earth bountiful.

Winter Solstice
No one said it was easy.
The world is too hot with righteousness.
Change comes upon us, cycle after cycle.
Even Howdy Doody shared the stage with Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring.

–Susan Edwards

Photo courtesy Martin Fritter:

Read 45 Comments and Reply

Read 45 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Waylon Lewis  |  Contribution: 1,230,620