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A resplendent life in sonnets from the author of Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize “The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhoo A resplendent life in sonnets from the author of Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize “The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhood in rural Michigan to the dangerous allures of New York City and back again. With sheer virtuosity, Seuss moves nimbly across thought and time, poetry and punk, AIDS and addiction, Christ and motherhood, showing us what we can do, what we can do without, and what we offer to one another when we have nothing left to spare. Like a series of cels on a filmstrip, frank: sonnets captures the magnitude of a life lived honestly, a restless search for some kind of “beauty or relief.” Seuss is at the height of her powers, devastatingly astute, austere, and—in a word—frank.


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A resplendent life in sonnets from the author of Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize “The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhoo A resplendent life in sonnets from the author of Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize “The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhood in rural Michigan to the dangerous allures of New York City and back again. With sheer virtuosity, Seuss moves nimbly across thought and time, poetry and punk, AIDS and addiction, Christ and motherhood, showing us what we can do, what we can do without, and what we offer to one another when we have nothing left to spare. Like a series of cels on a filmstrip, frank: sonnets captures the magnitude of a life lived honestly, a restless search for some kind of “beauty or relief.” Seuss is at the height of her powers, devastatingly astute, austere, and—in a word—frank.

52 review for frank: sonnets

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Diane Seuss brings to her poetry a combination of tenderness and rawness that’s utterly disarming. Smart and rude and witty and heartbreaking, she turns away from nothing -- except dishonestly; that she will not abide. I interviewed her two years ago for “Life of a Poet,” sponsored by the Library of Congress, and found her incredibly illuminating, particularly on the process of translating painful experience into art (watch). Her new collection of 42 untitled sonnets, “frank,” may be her best bo Diane Seuss brings to her poetry a combination of tenderness and rawness that’s utterly disarming. Smart and rude and witty and heartbreaking, she turns away from nothing -- except dishonestly; that she will not abide. I interviewed her two years ago for “Life of a Poet,” sponsored by the Library of Congress, and found her incredibly illuminating, particularly on the process of translating painful experience into art (watch). Her new collection of 42 untitled sonnets, “frank,” may be her best book yet. It’s scarily good. In the following poem, Seuss remembers Mikel Lindzy, a friend she met in high school art class and later lost to AIDS. He’s pictured on the book’s cover.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tom C.

    First to get it out of the way, I don't know when "sonnet" stopped meaning fourteen lines iambic pentameter octave and sestet volta in line nine I mean Terrance Hayes won the National Book Award for a book of not-sonnets and this book of not-sonnets may also win the NBA it should in fact subtitle aside it's the finest book of poems I've read so far in 2021 it's great narrative poetry also free associative you'll learn about Seuss's friend who died of AIDS of her son's struggles with hardcore dru First to get it out of the way, I don't know when "sonnet" stopped meaning fourteen lines iambic pentameter octave and sestet volta in line nine I mean Terrance Hayes won the National Book Award for a book of not-sonnets and this book of not-sonnets may also win the NBA it should in fact subtitle aside it's the finest book of poems I've read so far in 2021 it's great narrative poetry also free associative you'll learn about Seuss's friend who died of AIDS of her son's struggles with hardcore drug addiction of encounters with everyone from Tom Petty and Lou Reed to Kenneth Koch and Robert Creeley of poverty of deep sadness and joy Seuss has lived a hell of a life and lived to tell about it I feel like I know her now better than I know my neighbors but after reading these poems somehow I want to know my neighbors better and also myself anyway the poems do have fourteen lines each and therefore so does this review it only seems right

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    What to say? How to say it? How to escape the adjectives, I mean, "beautiful, melancholy, haunted and haunting" etc. The page. The consistency of the page, fourteen lines and white space, no titles, nothing gratuitous, just each sonnet arriving like the tide on an empty and then going out again, and again, and again, and like the ocean, and the ocean is here, of course, in those opening poems, wearing away at Cape Disappointment, eroding disappointment—acceptance, then, not moving on from, not a What to say? How to say it? How to escape the adjectives, I mean, "beautiful, melancholy, haunted and haunting" etc. The page. The consistency of the page, fourteen lines and white space, no titles, nothing gratuitous, just each sonnet arriving like the tide on an empty and then going out again, and again, and again, and like the ocean, and the ocean is here, of course, in those opening poems, wearing away at Cape Disappointment, eroding disappointment—acceptance, then, not moving on from, not a revelation of joy, but slow, inevitable, dissolving, well, maybe that's reading too much into it but there is, not a nihilism, per se, but more like taking nihilism as a given, as cliche, looking at nihilism and going, "And?" And I don't know, that was something I really needed right now, it turns out.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura Sackton

    This book took me a long time to read, but I loved it. Really appreciated the way the book felt like a memoir, the poems exploring different parts of Seuss's life, in vaguely (though not strictly) chronological order. I think the thing that stood out most, though, was the humor here. Seuss very explicitly doesn't take poetry too seriously. Many of the subjects she writes about are serious, but there's a constant thread, throughout the book, that's poking good-natured fun at the poetry, poets, wr This book took me a long time to read, but I loved it. Really appreciated the way the book felt like a memoir, the poems exploring different parts of Seuss's life, in vaguely (though not strictly) chronological order. I think the thing that stood out most, though, was the humor here. Seuss very explicitly doesn't take poetry too seriously. Many of the subjects she writes about are serious, but there's a constant thread, throughout the book, that's poking good-natured fun at the poetry, poets, writing, her own writing. It's never mean or cynical or anything like that. Rather, it feels very tender. There's a flowing, easy quality to these poems, and I think Seuss's sense of "this is poetry, we're not doing life-saving surgery here" added to that. At the same time, there are so many absolutely breathtaking lines. So many beautiful moments that made me pause. An energetic, moving collection.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    "What is wrong with the mind is what is wrong with the poem." Wow! Just wow. Dianne Seuss is doing magic in this collection of sonnets. The poems, while magnificent on their own, tell a wider story of love, death, loneliness, pop culture, family, and more. Seuss' poems also contend with the idea of the poem itself: why it exists and how. (arc via netgalley!!) "What is wrong with the mind is what is wrong with the poem." Wow! Just wow. Dianne Seuss is doing magic in this collection of sonnets. The poems, while magnificent on their own, tell a wider story of love, death, loneliness, pop culture, family, and more. Seuss' poems also contend with the idea of the poem itself: why it exists and how. (arc via netgalley!!)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim Horner McCoy

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Da'

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  9. 4 out of 5

    Diane Hamilton

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nonik

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

  12. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Portela

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aarik Danielsen

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Giragosian

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hayley M

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blake Levario

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steven Pfau

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hannah VanderHart

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Poli

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra Allen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liz Baldwin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karina Pantoja

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ross Brian Stager

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Pittella

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nevona Friedman

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Brown

  30. 4 out of 5

    Poetry Daily

  31. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  32. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Rollins Anderson

  33. 5 out of 5

    K.C. Bratt-Pfotenhauer

  34. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Pearl

  35. 5 out of 5

    Jessie McMains

  36. 4 out of 5

    Megan Enderschmidt

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sarinah

  38. 4 out of 5

    Lucia

  39. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Nnoka

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jem

  41. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  42. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  43. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  44. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  45. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  46. 4 out of 5

    Drew

  47. 5 out of 5

    jimmy

  48. 5 out of 5

    Darrin

  49. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  50. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  51. 4 out of 5

    John

  52. 5 out of 5

    Nora

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