Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
Diane Seuss

“A skilled, inventive collection.”—The Millions

“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

About the Book

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

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.”

Additional Reviews

“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

“Seuss hones in on the act of engaging with art to brilliantly imagine worlds beyond a painting’s frame. . . . Invigorating ekphrastic poems and self-portraits.”Publishers Weekly

“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

“In Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl poetry is an agent of resurrection and reanimation.”—Fork and Page

Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl exquisitely layers self, art, and language. . . . Seuss demonstrates remarkable tenderness toward her figures and speakers, exquisite control over form and design, and has given us, her readers, another exquisite collection, where visual art and poem are combined into an inextricable whole.”The Adriot Journal

“Spell-binding in its engagement with music and visual texture, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl is a masterpiece of poetic forms that innovate their origins.”Tyler Mills, On the Seawall