Sue McKenzie

Nonfiction | University of Akron | Class of 2024

Whatever Small Worth is an essay collection that considers the physical, emotional, relational, and cultural aspects of middle-aged womanhood. Unpacking the nuances of her own relationships, the author examines her roles—as daughter, as wife, as mother, as sister, and as teacher with keen interest in the way love and pain and the surprises of life influence the body and the mind. Asking nagging questions about what it means to be a woman in this world, this work is interested in laying it all out there, begging forgiveness for the narrator’s imperfections, perhaps invoking humor as catharsis, and addressing the personal as a way to make it universal.


About Sue

Sue McKenzie is a middle-aged writer from Akron, Ohio. She writes predominantly nonfiction. Her work focuses on womanhood and the ways our relationships can teach us important things about ourselves. Sue holds a BA in American Studies from Middlebury College (1987), a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law (1992), and an MA in English Literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English (2021). Sue practiced law and taught legal research and writing before becoming a high school English teacher. She came to creative writing through a memoir class she took for her MA and joined the NEOMFA after taking a transfer class with Mary Biddinger. Sue has served as graduate teaching assistant and been the nonfiction editor for Rubbertop while in the program. She has loved every minute of her three years!

What’s on your nightstand right now?

I’m reading Lottie Hazell’s Piglet, Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, Amanda Peters’ The Berry Pickers, and Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake in a strange mashup of hard copy, Kindle, and audiobook formats that would fascinate a seasoned research librarian.

Your favorite place to write while in the NEOMFA?

My kitchen table—until we moved last fall and I took up residency at the kitchen island. Always the kitchen.

What are your favorite words? Why?

“Conundrum” because, to me, everything is one. 

“Hangry” because it so aptly reflects the feeling of needing to eat and being so pissed off you just might take a bite of your car’s upholstery or your bookbag. 

“Temerity” because I always wanted to use Atticus Finch’s word in my writing and I finally got to do so in my thesis!