Diane Seuss Craft of Poetry: Le Freak, C'est Chic: Freaking the Sonnet

Heimbold Visual Arts Center Donnelley Film Theatre

Open to the public

/ Tuesday


Diane Seuss

A sonnet, like all traditional forms, is a kind of archetype, an archetype of form rather than image, and like all archetypes, it is open to reinvention. It is, in fact, reliant on contemporary practioners for its renewal. We will turn our attention to poets who are improvisational sonneteers, from Hopkins and e.e. cummings to Gerald Stern, Evie Shockley, and Terrance Hayes, in order to consider how given forms can be adopted, adapted, and upended for the poet's own provocative purposes. Seuss will also discuss her own invented form, a melding of Ginsberg's "American Sentence" with the sonnet's traditional movement and length, and her current manuscript-in-progress, a memoir composed of sonnets. How might formal improvisation serve as an act of both homage and individuation, as a touchstone that holds us up as we travel deeper and deeper into our freakish originality?

Diane Seuss' most recent collection, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, was released in 2018 by Graywolf Press. Four-Legged Girl, published in 2015 by Graywolf Press, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open won the Juniper Prize and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2010. Seuss was raised in rural Michigan, which she continues to call home.