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Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Poems
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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$16.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-806-8
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
Subject
Pages
120
Trim Size
7 x 9
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

Graywolf at 45: Poetry reading co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation

Date:
Location:
Poetry Foundation in Chicago, ILview map

A poetry reading featuring Nick Flynn (I Will Destroy You), Carmen Giménez Smith (Be Recorder), Erika L. Sánchez (Lessons on Expulsion), Diane Seuss (Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl), and Tom Sleigh (House of Fact, House of Ruin). Co-sponsored by and hosted at the Poetry Foundation.

Free and open to the public, with reception to follow.

Praise

  • "The picturesque and the grotesque pair flawlessly in Seuss’s poems, and even gore has an abject charm....She admires art without forgetting that it’s only a facsimile; she questions whether reality, with all of its texture and dimensionality, can be known at all."—New Yorker

     
  • “This collection showcases a poet who is writing some of the most animated and complex poetry today. . . . By the end of the book, everything is larger and more vibrant—the paintings, the speaker’s life, the reader and the world. This is the brilliance of Seuss—everything is animated and complicated by her mind, a mind that has a hunch that silence holds truth”Los Angeles Times
  • “[A] marvelous, complex, attractive, frightening book.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • “Throughout this rich collection, the speaker uses art to show how women and the lower class have been portrayed and framed, so to speak, by social norms and expectations. She challenges long-held ideas about worth, privilege and beauty, and creates an alternative landscape through self-portraits and Gothic still lifes.”TheWashington Post
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