- “Diane Seuss’s superb Modern Poetry is no mere survey; it’s a full-frontal seminar on the subject. In these forty-one fiery poems, Seuss takes a deep dive into our inheritance from the Romantic and Modernist lyric poets, like Keats and Hopkins, through Stevens and Plath, ‘the final modern poet.’ Her sizzling (and often funny) task is to insist on the radical differences she savors from those earlier custodians of the melancholy sublime, where Beauty was writ large and meaning can still seem like an academic exercise—or mere fog. The truth in Seuss’s world is gritty, with dirt on its hands, determined by a self-assertive resistance to the Romantic ideal. For every ‘Aria,’ ‘High Romance,’ and ‘Villanelle,’ she counters with a ‘Cowpunk’ and ‘Little Fugue with Jean Seberg and Tupperware.’ She shows us that class, region, race, gender—those identifying features—are not things to be solved or resolved in some transcendental razzmatazz but accepted, embraced. Seuss exposes the falsity of idealized love, of academic coziness, and the grandeur of sublimity by a self-deprecating humor that morphs time and again into a wily, powerful, self-valuing gift.”—David Baker
If you are like me, to learn of the gods you must
beg, borrow, or steal. Eavesdrop, as gossip
is sagacity, a word I learned from Emily
Dickinson. Don’t underestimate direct
experience. Ants know earth. Dragonflies
know air. A cobbled mind is not fatal.
You have to be willing to self-educate
at a moment’s notice, and to be caught
in your ignorance by people who will
use it against you. You will mispronounce
words in front of a crowd. It cannot be
avoided. But your poems, with all of their
deficiencies, products of lifelong observation
and asymmetric knowledge, will be your own.
—from “My Education”
In poems of rangy curiosity, sharp humor, and illuminating self-scrutiny, Modern Poetry investigates our time’s deep isolation and divisiveness and asks: What can poetry be now? Do poems still have the capacity to mean? “It seems wrong / to curl now within the confines / of a poem,” Seuss writes. “You can’t hide / from what you made / inside what you made.” What she finds there, finally, is a surprising but unmistakable love.
Diane Seuss - Modern Poetry (Virtual Event Book Launch)
Left Bank Books presents Diane Seuss, one of the most original voices in contemporary poetry. Seuss is the author of five previous poetry collections, including frank: sonnets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Voelcker Award! Help us celebrate the launch of Modern Poetry with a virtual event that you can join from the comfort of your own home. Register here.
- "These irreverent, pulsing, and defiant poems are full of dangerous good sense."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
- "The latest from Seuss takes its title from her first poetry textbook and a course taken in college. Forms and terms from music and poetry—ballad, fugue, aria, refrain, coda—appear frequently."—Publishers Weekly
- "If the capacious version of the sonnet that Seuss used in her previous collection, the award-winning frank, proved a gorgeous way to rein in—structure, organize, make into art—the enthrallingly candid rovings of her mind, her new book takes the canon itself as inspiration, or perhaps a copy of an old poetry anthology left in a puddle, adapting its forms to her special subject matter, the poet who somehow sprang from the mud of a non-literary or even anti-literary background."—David Woo, Literary Hub
- “Modern Poetry is filled with such agility, as Seuss’s finely tuned lyricism counterpoints in stunning ways her almost bathetic directness. At no point does this collection about poetry feel insular or solipsistic; rather, it leaps from the page with great urgency, in no small part because of the charm and affability of Seuss’s speaker. . . . She is someone to who one wants to listen.”—Preposition Magazine