Stonecoast MFA faculty member Diane Seuss has been nominated for a 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award. Seuss’s book, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press), was among six finalists in the poetry category announced on January 22. Her previous book, Four-Legged Girl: Poems, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016. Widely published in the nation’s top literary magazines, Seuss is also a Pushcart Prize winner.
At the 2019 MFA Winter Residency in Freeport, Maine, her first at Stonecoast, Seuss engaged student poets in a series of master classes and offered a seminar entitled “Writing the Rural: The Gothic Pastoral, and Elevating the Twang.” She also read from her latest work at a public reading event.
Commenting on Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and A Girl, Stonecoast MFA poet Teri Elam said, “I love how Diane accesses Rembrandt’s seventeenth-century painting in the titular poem, adding her own brushstrokes of humor and banality. In another poem, ‘Wal-Mart Parking Lot,’ she conflates Jackson Pollock’s modernism with her view of postmodern Wal-Mart. Diane's poetry subverts assumptions. She teaches like she writes, with the intent to subvert or break up ‘type’ and provide a different brushstroke to use.”
MFA student Jennifer Brooke, also a poet, noted that the master class with Seuss left her “shaken up, like the snow in a snow globe, but in a good way . . . trusting and valuing the essence and motivation of the hand shaking the globe.”
The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. The awards in each of the NBCC’s six categories will be presented on March 14, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. at the New School in New York City. A reading by the finalists will take place the evening before the awards, on March 13 at 6:30 p.m., also at the New School. Both events are free and open to the public.