Local poet/writer wins “Next Great Travel Writer” Contest from Natl Geo Traveler

March 6, 2016


“Something in my gut told me Suzanne was our writer when I read her essay,” said National Geographic Traveler magazine Editor in Chief Keith Bellows.

“Her story instincts were good…”

It’s a dream come true for Suzanne Roberts of South Shore.

Her new book was just published, she’s launched the LTCC Writer’s Series, and she just won a trip to Mongolia & The Gobi Desert with National Geographic Traveler.

Go girl!

National Geographic Traveler magazine and Travcoa recently selected Roberts as the Next Great Travel Writer out of almost 500 students who entered their contest to find the next generation of travel writers.

Roberts not only wins a seat on Travcoa’s “Mongolia & The Gobi Desert” journey in July next to National Geographic Traveler magazine Editor in Chief Keith Bellows, but also the opportunity to write about her experience for National Geographic Traveler’s website.

Roberts had planned on pursuing a career in travel writing after she finished writing her dissertation. “I often journal and write poems about my travel adventures, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with a wider audience,” Roberts said. “Being a travel writer, especially for National Geographic Traveler, has been a dream of mine since I was little. It combines the two things I love most in the world: travel and writing.”

Bellows will show her the travel writing ropes during their journey together this July. “Something in my gut told me Suzanne was our writer when I read her essay,” Bellows said. “Her story instincts were good, and that is something you cannot teach a new writer.”

Roberts lives in South Shore and teaches English at LTCC and spearheaded the LTCC Writer’s Series. She is also a doctoral student of literature and the environment at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her new book, Nothing to You, was just released and includes travel poems.

Robert’s Winning Travel Essay:

Three Hours to Burn a Body

I have come to watch the bodies burn. I meet my guide, and he shoos away beggars and children selling shells that hold candles and marigolds—an offering for Mother Ganga. The murky river holds a thousand such lights, stars floating in dawn waters—real stars hidden by a tent of clouds. Every few minutes, the Untouchables travel barefoot down the stairs, carrying another gold-clad body on their shoulders. They chant, and the family follows their dead. I watch the Untouchables tend to the “eternal flame,” watch the living in order to avoid the dead. My guide says, “This one almost finished,” points to a pyre. I can almost make out a skull, a flame twisting from the ghost of an eye. “Three hours,” he says, “to burn a body.” My legs are hot from the flames. Ash rains onto my hair. “Good luck,” he points to the ash, “Very good luck, indeed.”

“Come,” he says, and leads me into a cold concrete building where elderly wait to die. I meet a creased and toothless woman. She holds out her hand, and a wrinkled breast sags from her sari. She tucks it back in unapologetically. The guide explains, “She needs money for her pyre. Wood very expensive. Good karma for you.” I offer her 500 rupees, a large sum by Indian standards. I want to protect my karma. The guide says, “Not enough. You must give more.” I hand over 500 more and walk back to the shore where the boatman is waiting. From the river, I look toward the burning bodies. Children run above, along the rooftop of the concrete building where a woman waits to die. The fires below create hot wind that lifts their colorful kites and their laughter into flight.

Click here to visit Suzanne’s website and learn more.