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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.

30 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

    Ken

    In a word: Wow. This collection runs rich and runs deep -- 130 pages deep, with a poem on every page). Every poem, 14 lines. Every poem, telling the story of a life, memoir-like, meaning you will relate to some of it for sure. And no, Seuss's has not been an easy life, but we all know facts such as that don't get in the way of good memoirs. In fact, they enhance them. As I have a lot to say about this book -- the best poetry collection I've read in 2021 -- I decided to wax rhapsodic in my journal In a word: Wow. This collection runs rich and runs deep -- 130 pages deep, with a poem on every page). Every poem, 14 lines. Every poem, telling the story of a life, memoir-like, meaning you will relate to some of it for sure. And no, Seuss's has not been an easy life, but we all know facts such as that don't get in the way of good memoirs. In fact, they enhance them. As I have a lot to say about this book -- the best poetry collection I've read in 2021 -- I decided to wax rhapsodic in my journal. You're invited, of course. I provided not one, but TWO example sonnets at the end of the post. My typing hands are tired. You're welcome.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Fondakowski

    This is a terrific collection of poems. They create a complete world that you can immerse yourself into. They have all the components of classic, great poetry: rhythm, rhyme, eye stabbing imagery, gut-punch endings, and ideas and reflections that resonate, and stick with you for a while. I will admit that the poetry sometimes challenged me, and there were times I had to work to stay with it on its own terms. Poems that particularly conjure the days of the New York School, and the era that follow This is a terrific collection of poems. They create a complete world that you can immerse yourself into. They have all the components of classic, great poetry: rhythm, rhyme, eye stabbing imagery, gut-punch endings, and ideas and reflections that resonate, and stick with you for a while. I will admit that the poetry sometimes challenged me, and there were times I had to work to stay with it on its own terms. Poems that particularly conjure the days of the New York School, and the era that followed them tend to rub me the wrong way and I just don't know why. Maybe it's the name dropping, or the shock dropping, or, the idea (that was perpetuated when I was coming into poetry in the late 80s/early 90s), that you had to live a varied and wild and addicted life in order to be a poet. The ordinary was no place for poetry! So, I balked at some of these poems - but it didn't happen often, because Seuss always brought me back: the story in these poems may at times have been violent and beautiful and terrible, and they may not have been a reflection of my ordinary life, but they were someone's. And reading them, sticking with them, opened my heart and mind. *It only took me a long time to read because I was reading two other books at the same time as is my habit!

  6. 5 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.

  7. 4 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!!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cathe Fein Olson

    A memoir told through sonnets. Powerful, beautiful writing. I didn't always completely understand what was happening but I was moved by the words that evoked strong images and emotions. Very unusual and worth multiple reads. A memoir told through sonnets. Powerful, beautiful writing. I didn't always completely understand what was happening but I was moved by the words that evoked strong images and emotions. Very unusual and worth multiple reads.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Oh my my!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gary D

    I’ve been writing sonnets for 40 years, and if I keep it up for another 960 I’ll know what Ms Seuss forgets when she clips her toenails. A master craftswoman! Wow!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    This book is not five stars it is a constellation of stars. This book. THIS.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kim Horner McCoy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Da'

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diane Hamilton

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liam

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nonik

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

  20. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Portela

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Castle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  24. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Martell

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aarik Danielsen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Giragosian

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

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