Susan Bourrie was born in La Salle, Illinois. She attended Illinois Valley Community College where she was mentored by Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg. One of her light verse poems placed in two national poetry competitions. Other light verse poems were published in Quote Magazine. She attended Northern Illinois University before moving to Michigan.
After being diagnosed with low vision caused by undetected congenital glaucoma, she stopped writing and became a stay-at-home mother until a brief relocation to Indiana where she worked part-time as a children’s librarian, a job that required writing weekly public relations articles for The Madison Courier. When she returned to Michigan, she started writing and publishing narrative poems for children such as “Mortimer J. Readabook, the Medicine Man” and “Admiral Seasalt’s Waterbed.” She attended the first Vassar Institute for Publishing and Writing: Children’s Books in the Marketplace. At the same time, her light verse and song lyrics began placing in national and international competition. She was hired to teach writing at Saginaw Valley State University.
She moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where she entered the School of Library Studies at The University of Michigan but left after the first year when the program changed its focus from print to technology that was not yet accessible for the vision impaired. She transferred to Central Michigan University where she lectured while earning master’s degrees in both School Library Media and Children’s Literature. During this time, her articles about Lloyd C. Douglas and William Holmes McGuffey were published in The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. She was honored by The University of Michigan where she was invited to speak about preparing patient education materials in multimedia formats and appointed to the Council for Disability Concerns. She was also appointed to the Ann Arbor Commission for Disability Issues.
Her most exciting class at The University of Michigan was an elective, Words & Music, a graduate level workshop for poets and composers that was taught by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Richard Tillinghast, and Pulitzer Prize winning composer, William Bolcom. Her song lyrics were set to music and performed in a collaborative and supportive environment.
While lecturing at Eastern Michigan University, she completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy with an emphasis in Literacy at Michigan State University but chose to leave the program before working on a dissertation when a second eye disease, inoperable cataracts, rendered her legally blind. She became an advocate for the blind and vision impaired and served on a committee of special librarians who met at the Ann Arbor District Library and succeeded in making public libraries more accessible for people living with vision loss or physical limitations.
The doctoral study and research that led to her Educational Specialist degree involved vision, literacy, and learning. In 2012, she began sharing this knowledge and her personal experiences in a blog, Loving What is Left While Living with Low Vision. The blog includes essays, poetry, light verse, humor, and memoir. After years of study, teaching, and advocacy, Susan Bourrie has returned to her creative projects and freelance writing.