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Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Diane Seuss
Still life with stack of bills phone cord cig butt and freezer-burned Dreamsicle
Still life with Easter Bunny twenty caged minks and rusty meat grinder
Still life with whiskey wooden leg two potpies and a dead parakeet
Still life with pork rinds pickled peppers and the Book of Revelation
Still life with feeding tube oxygen half-eaten raspberry Zinger
Still life with convenience store pecking order shotgun blast to the face
—from “American Still Lives”
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl takes its title from Rembrandt’s painting, a dark emblem of femininity, violence, and the viewer’s own troubled gaze. In Diane Seuss’s new collection, the notion of the still life is shattered and Rembrandt’s painting is presented across the book in pieces—details that hide more than they reveal until they’re assembled into a whole. With invention and irreverence, these poems escape gilded frames and overturn traditional representations of gender, class, and luxury. Instead, Seuss invites in the alienated, the washed-up, the ugly, and the freakish—the overlooked many of us who might more often stand on a Walmart parking lot than before the canvases of Pollock, O’Keeffe, and Rothko. Rendered with precision and profound empathy, this extraordinary gallery of lives in shards shows us that “our memories are local, acute, and unrelenting.”

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Diane Seuss’s follow-up to Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

About the Author

Diane  Seuss
Credit: Gabrielle Montesanti
Diane Seuss is the author of four poetry collections, including Still Life With Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl,Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, winner of the Juniper Prize. She lives in Michigan.

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Upcoming Events

Diane Seuss reading at The Commons Minneapolis

The Commons in Minneapolis, MNview map
Reading with With Caitlin Bailey, Sumita Chakraborty, Roy Guzman, Christopher Santiago, and Michael Torres.


  • “As [Seuss’] thoughts alight on the paintings, she discusses them with often stunning visual metaphors. . . . Reading this collection is a dizzying, challenging, and overall pleasant experience.”Library Journal
  • “Lyrical, lusty, art-centric. . . . Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl is as much about running as it is about standing still, and as much about confronting death as it is about rediscovering life. . . . A kinetic art walk rich in observation, curiosity, reverence and impudence.”—Shelf Awareness
  • “Every poem changes perspective in surprising ways with psychographic messages, because Seuss sees a world that combines versatility, tenderness, and sheer lingual strength. . . . Craft, brightness, darkness; she’s writing at the top of her game.”Washington Independent Review of Books
  • “A skilled, inventive collection.”—The Millions
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