frank: Book summary and reviews of frank by Diane Seuss

frank

sonnets

by Diane Seuss

frank by Diane Seuss X
frank by Diane Seuss
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Book Summary

A resplendent life in sonnets from the author of Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

Poverty, like a sonnet, is a good teacher. The kind that raps your
knuckles with a ruler but not the kind that throws a dictionary
across the room and hits you in the brain with all the words
that ever were. Boxed fathers buried deep are still fathers,
teacher says. Do without the. Without and. Without hot
dogs in your baked beans. A sonnet is a mother. Every word
a silver dollar. Shit in one hand, she says. Wish in another.

—from "[The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do]"

"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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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2021
  • award image Pulitzer Prize Winners, 2022

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Seuss transforms 'tragic spectacle' into something beautiful, visionary, 'revolting and grand.'" - The Nation

"Seuss layers the work with a litany of cultural and literary references ... It is at that bright, fascinating collision between tradition and innovation that these poems reside." - Soft Punk Magazine

"The whole book is ... barbed and artful, dramatizing both Seuss's writing life and her life-life, staking out a territory for the reader to look at and admire but never to control or own." - Poetry Foundation

"frank: sonnets feels very close to writing; it is a heady, intoxicating experience. Seuss understands the labor of a sonnet's particular space―the intensity and the balance, the anaphora and the rhyme that can gallop wild inside the sonnet's field." - The Rumpus

"This is a writer whose pleasure in building language knocks you over and makes you feel some responsive pleasure…" - Women's Review of Books

"Seuss is at her most moving and morally attuned…" - Harvard Review

"The lightning intelligence of Diane Seuss's poems strikes equally the lavish external world and the harrowed interior. A brilliant and devastating account of the making and survival of a poet, frank: sonnets has a relentless, lambent urgency; by its final pages I had to remind myself to breathe." - Garth Greenwell

"In frank: sonnets Diane Seuss has written an ambitious, searing, and capacious life story... . Another collection that staggers, one that makes mastery seem effortless, one that's honest, true, gorgeously frank." - Traci Brimhall

"Every poem in frank: sonnets is an example of the incomparable Seussian Sonnet... . Acute, resolute, buoyant, and unflinching, frank rings loudest as a synonym for candor, so much do these poems feel tethered to a real life, a real world, simultaneously grounded and spiritual, verbal and existential, with resonances of the blues." - Terrance Hayes

"Good lord. I've rarely read a book that feels so intimate, so spoken. I've rarely read a book that makes me feel so spoken to. So with. These are poems born of a kind of wrought faith that, despite all the breaking, language still might bring us closer to each other, and closer to ourselves. Diane Seuss's frank: sonnets shares that faith with us. And goddamn, I am so grateful for that." - Ross Gay

This information about frank was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss is the author of frank: sonnets, winner of the NPCC prixe for poetry, 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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