“I’ve never been able to find myself, or experience myself, without first losing myself.”

A conversation between Diane Seuss and Julia Edwards

Julia Edwards: I’m struck and dazzled by the imagery in your work that often creates a measured sense of excess. The objects, especially in Four-Legged Girl, seem to gather and rise up in a resurrection, such as in “It seems, back then, there was a mythic teapot.” Sometimes, an object begins the poem and undergoes a transformation while other times, we come to the object towards the end, as in the poem, “Bowl” in Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl. I’m wondering if the vehicle for your work is more commonly the object(s) or the imagination? I’d love to know a little more about the relationship between the two in your process.

Diane Seuss: What an incredibly astute and thoughtful question. I love your notion of the resurrected=object, which matches how objects seem to function in my poems—from lived experience—the thing itself—to “emotion recollected in tranquility,” as Wordsworth writes, (though often not so tranquil on my part), to the imagination swooping in and consigning the object with vibrational, spiritual power, which incites memory, a creature I follow into the resurrective territory of the poem.

When I think about the “mythic teapot” you mention, I realize that it was really just a simple teapot I saw when I was very young. What’s cool about early childhood memory is that everything is freaky to children. Everything’s new. Tea and steam and the spout and the ancient, blue-veined hand that poured the tea, and the old person’s house, and the old person’s windmill-shaped cookies. What makes the teapot seem to be mythic is how memory imbues it with feeling—and not just feeling, but something more bottom line. Being, maybe. You’re right that the teapot leads me into that particular poem, and that’s the case more often than not. The bowl leads me out of the poem in “Bowl,” or functions as the poem’s crescendo. All along, though, the collective speakers of that poem are aware of where they’re headed. They are building a thesis for which the bowl is the final touché of evidence. For me, however, the bowl, the idea of a bowl, the archetype of a bowl, and how it is emblematic of my people—well, the bowl still led me in. Charlies Simic writes “An object is an encyclopedia of archetypes.” I think I agree. I might only add that an object, if given the chance, is also an encyclopedia of voices.

JE: Some of your poems use direct address, such as “People, the ghosts down in North-of-the-South aren’t see-through” and “Young Hare,” after Dürer. There is a certain distance that brings the speaker closer to her subjects, allowing her to become part of Dürer’s painting in a similar way that she is both an omniscient, guiding voice and part of her collective “people”. I’m curious as to whether there is a rejection of the notion that we can separate life from death or that we can view a painting without projecting ourselves into it. More broadly, I’m wondering how you think about boundaries in life and art.

DS: That question is an encyclopedia of archetypes!! Well, first—do I reject the notion that we can separate life from death? Since I experienced my father’s death at such a young age—I was seven—I think that I have always been “confused,” or stuck deeply in the mystery, of the boundary between life and death. I mean, years after his death I’d come upon one of his socks in the clothes hamper. Our lives were alive with his absence. I wasn’t old enough to see death as an ending when the coffin lid slammed shut. My mother’s love for him was constant as well. She didn’t give up on the love, and she still hasn’t. Just today, more than fifty years after his death, she went out very early in the morning to get flowers for his grave. I am used to maintaining relationships with the dead via the imagination. Via poetry, really. (Maybe that’s the connection between objects—bowls and teapots—and human beings).

Can we view a painting without projecting ourselves into it—that’s another kettle of fish. Can we read a poem without projecting ourselves into it? Can we look at a bowl without a degree of projection? I’m not sure. In my most recent book, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, those were the questions that drove the poems and kept me up at night. Some of the poems suggest that a painting projects itself on us. Some, that we can’t find our way into the painting at all. Some, that we can’t find our way out. In others, I explore the notion that the paintings’ subjects—often women—have the urge to crawl out of the frame and the gaze and into whatever is outside of it, whether heaven or hell. Sometimes I love the experience of losing myself in art—in disappearing into it. Often I love the experience of losing myself in the natural world, in the realm of the senses. I’ve never been able to find myself, or experience myself, without first losing myself. Losing myself in desire. In love. In loneliness. A painting is such an interesting location for thinking about boundaries, isn’t it? It has a literal frame, a demarcation. To find my way in I have to cross the barrier. Or stand back, stand outside of it, and assess it with pseudo-objectivity, which is also interesting. What thrills me, what thrilled me in Peacocks, was to immerse myself in these questions, and in the experience of art, of seeing across time, gender, class, and space. Sometimes, as with Durer, I could almost touch him.

Boundaries themselves, in life? I recommend them, though I don’t understand them at all.

You also mention the speaker as “both an omniscient, guiding voice and part of her collective ‘people’.” That is crucial to Peacocks. I was very interested in exploring the “we,” the voice of my people, which is not my individual, quirky, Diane-voice at all. To fuel that “we” I still needed the “me,” however, and so the voice of the poems (not the whole book, but many of the poems that originate in the rural place where I was raised) occupy a margin between a kind of mythic rural “we” and a mythic “me.” It’s in keeping with one of the tenets of the whole book that self, community, and painting are all capable of elevation into something heightened, intense, noble, and strange.

JE: The way you describe childhood memory is so vibrant. It is true, and such a potent duality, that our lives can be “alive” with a loved one’s absence. I really admire the range in which you are able to render the elegiac in your work. There is sometimes humor present, as in “There’s Some I Just Won’t Let Die,” but these poems are also deeply haunting. “Still Life with Turkey,” for instance, seems to encapsulate what you mention about death not ending when the coffin lid shuts. I have to mention, too, I was gutted (in a good way!) by your recent poem featured on poets.org [“Things feel partial. My love for things is partial. Mikel on his last legs, covered”]. This poem reminds me of what you said about losing yourself, perhaps retrospectively, in order to find yourself when the speaker asks, “What would have happened if I’d opened / my heart all the way as I was told to do if I wanted Jesus to live inside one of its / dank chambers?”

I think my question here is about your tonal and formal approach to making death come alive on the page as it does in life.

DS: I am really held up by Lorca’s work on the aesthetic concept of duende, “In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world,” he writes. “The duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.” Kevin Young writes in a similar vein in his wonderful essay “Deadism”—" Maybe what we need is an undead poetry – not to take death back from poetry, but to take death back from death itself. A poetry of shambling power, devouring everything it its path. A vampire poetry that will live forever, sexy and dangerous and immortal, shape-shifting when necessary.” I am also guided by Keats’ supposed last poem, sometimes called “Late Fragment,” sometimes “This Living Hand,” written in the margin of his last, unfinished long poem. He writes with searing honesty from the very edge of death. He demands our attention, which is the only way he can live again.

All of this is to say that for me, one of the most crucial functions of poetry is to speak from the dead—speak from death—and therefore resist death. “Still Life with Turkey” is immersed in seeing, seeing as penance, according to the poem’s logic, for not seeing my dad in his coffin. It really is a theory of looking, at looking at art, at making art, that is about the courage of taking the world in through the senses. “There’s Some I Just Won’t Let Die” arose out of conversation with my sister, who was a Hospice nurse for many years. Again, it is the human resistance to death, a physical, concrete confrontation with death, and yes, humor is part of that resistance. In my most recent work, as in the sonnet you reference, “[Things feel partial. My love for things is partial. Mikel on his last legs, covered,” I am looking critically at my own fear—the way fear kept me from fully embracing the moment, from loving without barriers—and now it’s too late. There is such a thing as too late. Some stuff can’t be fixed. I like writing in an honest way of those things that aren’t resolvable—fear, love, death.

As for your question about tone and form: I often push the tone of my speaker toward intense self-disclosure, toward a revelation of their lack of heroism. I am not particularly moved by poems in which the speaker is wise, or prescriptive, so much as I am by poems in which the speaker is fallible. Sometimes humor is a way to keep the speaker from taking themselves too seriously, even in their confessions of fallibility. How can a speaker be viable without being a know-it-all? How can I show my utter humanness, my foibles, my weaknesses? Why do this? Well, one reason is that the reader can feel more supported in their own humanness. Formally, I find it important to make use of some sort of limitation—some “given”—in order to distract my more conventional analytical mind. A given might be a still life painting. Something to wrangle my imagination around. Or a given might be a 17-syllable line, as it is in the sonnets in Peacocks. Right now, I’m writing sonnets. Fourteen lines, a volta of some sort, a rhyme now and then—that compression keeps me honest.

JE: I love what you say about a painting being an “interesting location” to explore boundaries and how you portray the subjects inside them with urges to step out of the frame to an unknown afterlife. Do you think there are things that the poem can do for its subjects – and its readers as “viewers” – in terms of its framework (and beyond) that a painting can’t?

DS: This seems like it should be a simple question, but it isn’t! A painting is an object in a world of objects. If it is representational, it provides us with shapes we think we understand. It is also, usually, 2-dimensional. We can stand outside of it and take the role of onlooker. It appears to be concrete. Now a visual artist or art historian would disagree with all of those generalities, but for the sake of finding my way to an answer, I’ll go there.

Poetry, although with its own element of visual architecture, is built of words. Paint can “do” blue, but a poem must resort to the word “blue” or even a few notches farther away, into figurative language. Blue as…blue like…The reader must walk those conceptual bridges to bring the image into an apparition of wholeness. Language is a problematic medium. It throws off associative sparks that we may not intend. One could say that the nature of brush strokes, the method for laying down paint, has a kind of diction, a personality, but those elements may be more direct in poems via what we call, very generically, voice. A drawing of Keats on his deathbed (there is one, and it’s very moving) has a different impact than the deathbed poem itself: “This living hand, now warm and capable /Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold /And in the icy silence of the tomb, /So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights /That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood/So in my veins red life might stream again, /And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is– /I hold it towards you.” We receive him with such intimacy here because of the nature of the voice itself. Paint would communicate Keats’ rage and fear differently. Now I feel a similar intimacy with Dürer when I look closely at the quality of line and color that composes his “Young Hare,” especially when I notice the reflection of his studio window in the hare’s eye. I connect with the hare, and with Dürer, in the direct way I do with elements of the natural world. It doesn’t require words. It’s a break from words—though quickly, our minds start asking questions about the nature of the representation. This challenge becomes even more vast when we take in abstraction, either in paintings or poems. Each requires more steps, more talking to oneself. I’m not sure if I got anywhere with this answer!

JE: Along these lines, you spoke earlier of the mythic “we” and “I”. I see the self being mythologized in “I once fought the idea of the body as artifact,” for instance, in Four-Legged Girl. If I interpret correctly (and it’s certainly possible that I don’t), the speaker understands in hindsight that she once thought the body was malleable, “nebulous,” but is now aware that even in the attempt to resist ourselves as artifact, we still become archetypal (maybe in the Simic sense? or at least, in some sense). Similarly, there are poems throughout your work that grapple with the rewriting of the past through memory, which call to mind ars poetica. I’m thinking now of “White violet, not so much an image.” I’m curious as to whether you think of your poems as artifacts. Do they continue to be in conversation with memory even after they are written?

DS: One of my long-ago college professors told me I was in danger of becoming an artifact. I wasn’t sure, then, what he meant. I barely understood the meaning of the word “artifact” let alone its inferences, let alone how those inferences met up with the body—with my body. Looking back, I wonder if he was witnessing me performing myself. I bought my clothes and trinkets from thrift shops. A ten cent ring on every finger. I wore jeans with a broken fly which I pinned closed with a ten cent rose. I wore a shower curtain as a cape. So yes, I was constructing a self via external markers, as adolescents do, unsure as to if those markers corresponded at all to something real, within, or if they represented wishful thinking, or a smoke screen.

In the poem, my speaker looks back on a time before that kind of conscious self-invention—a time before identity, before rigid notions of gender. “I was nebulous as an amoeba or a nebula,/ hot water bottle with a flimsy skin, my clothes flowed, my eyes changed color/ in the fall, my horse was made of rainwater.” The transformation, in the poem, comes with playing a role. She wears eyeliner, hair gel. She’s characterized by stillness, by stone. This is a trope I notice as I look back at many of my poems—the invention of the false self, which is complicated by the artfulness of that invention, the making as opposed to the being. The mechanical nightingale, that Yeats preferred to the real bird in “Sailing to Byzantium”: “Once out of nature I shall never take/ My bodily form from any natural thing,/But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make/Of hammered gold and gold enameling/To keep a drowsy Emperor awake…” Art, being made, is by nature unnatural. What happens when one applies that same process to the body, to the self? Maybe we build it only to tear it down, especially if our constructions are socially ascribed and therefore conventional. Even my rebellions had a dimension of conventionality, like tattoos and piercings have become in this era.

Now I’m at an “and yet” moment: And yet, isn’t the lyric “I” inescapably performative? Isn’t that part of its charm? Don’t we make poems, in part, anyway, out of the urge to memorialize the self beyond this fluid moment, and this one, and this one? When I think of my dead, my shorthand is to describe them to myself by their modifiers, which are by nature, well, not “the thing itself” but the thing as it constructs itself, or the thing as it thinks of itself: Mikel, that cotton-shirt-wearing-cupcake-loving-anarchist. Keats, that soft-cheeked-love-obsessed-sufferer. Diane, that ring-on-every-finger-faux-lush-charlatan. There’s a wonderful Raymond Carver poem written at the end of his life, “Afterglow,” which represents the memorialization of the self’s modifiers better than anything I can say about it:

by Raymond Carver

The dusk of evening comes on. Earlier a little rain
had fallen. You open a drawer and find inside
the man’s photograph, knowing he has only two years
to live. He doesn’t know this, of course,
that’s why he can mug for the camera.
How could he know what’s taking root in his head
at that moment? If one looks to the right
through boughs and tree trunks, there can be seen
crimson patches of the after-glow. No shadows, no
half-shadows. It is still and damp…
The man goes on mugging. I put the picture back
in its place along with the others and give
my attention instead to the after-glow along the far ridge,
light golden on the roses in the garden.
Then, I can’t help myself, I glance once more
at the picture. The wink, the broad smile,
the jaunty slant of the cigarette.

There’s no escape from the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves, nor from memory’s tendency to latch on to those descriptors.

You are right that my poem “White violet, not so much an image” can be considered an ars poetica. “White violet, not so much an image/of tenderness as an image of a memory of tenderness.” Our jaunty imaginations can’t be satisfied for long with the thing itself. The detail becomes an image. The image becomes the image of a memory. When the mind gets involved it takes us incrementally further from the violet. To know a thing, the poem implies, is to dismantle it. To dismantle it is to kill its purity. When we describe it, it becomes less itself, more ourselves. And yet—and yet: “the jaunty slant of the cigarette.”

You ask whether I think of my poems as artifacts. “Do they continue to be in conversation with memory even after they are written?” In the moment of their making they are anything but artifacts. They are white violets in the private act of blooming. The moment they’re done and put away, or put out there, they become artifacts—unless—until—the reader volunteers their attention, their lifeblood. Then “in my veins red life might stream again, /And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is/– I hold it towards you.” The reader reconstitutes the moment of blooming. There in front of you is Keats’ living hand. within your reach.

JE: You mention that “Still Life with Turkey” is about the theory of looking and an “immersion” in seeing. In light of this – on what it means to look or see, I’m wondering what your process is like when you organize your projects. Do you imagine a collection visually before putting together a book? This might be a simple structure question or a more conceptual one.

DS: This aspect of putting together a manuscript has changed for me over the years. I got a lot of help putting together my first book, It Blows You Hollow. The publisher/editor was Herb Scott, who found New Issues Poetry and Prose. David Dodd Lee was his assistant editor. They went through a chaotic stack of poems and weeded out the lesser ones and helped me conceive of an overall order. I think, in the end, I did have a sense of the book’s trajectory, and that it wasn’t chronological, but attuned to a deeper order. I really tinkered a lot with the structure of Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, but that was primarily after the poems were already written. I wrote them over a few years, and so they held together thematically, in tone, in voice, but I didn’t embark on a particular book project and write my way into that. Maybe I had a bit more consciousness as I worked on Four-Legged Girl, but again my investment was in individual poems. Each one begot the next. My nose was to the path and I was seeking out the subsequent step.

It wasn’t until Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl that I experienced entering into a book project with a clear sense of the collection’s conceptual frame, though I can’t say it was overly prescribed. My work rises and falls on improvisation, so over planning would be lethal. Still, I did know that still life painting would live at the book’s center. The Rembrandt painting that titled the book provided me with the other issues that would live at the heart of the whole collection—the rural, the marginal, the hunger that art can’t touch, beauty’s carnage, gender, class. Once the poems were written, I toyed with order, finally deciding that the sectioning couldn’t be too thematic nor the edges too clean. It was in my time alone at the MacDowell Colony that I came to the notion of cutting up the title painting and using its fragments as section “titles” rather than numbers or titles made of words.

In answer to your question then, I would say that I do not imagine a collection with too much foreshadowing. For me, that dilutes the magic on which I rely. In Peacocks, and in my next collection, a memoir in sonnets, I am relying more on consciousness of a book’s shape than I had in the past.

JE: It is comforting to hear you say that your work requires improvisation. As an "emerging" poet, as they say, thinking (and writing) towards a first collection, I worry that a body of work needs to be clear in its direction, when that route can easily feel overly prescriptive. Would you mind elaborating a little more on the importance of improvisation in poetry?

DS: Oh hell yes. Poetry must be anything but clear in its direction—at best, it leads us, don’t you think? I have no doubt poems are smarter than I am. Anyway, so much of contemporary life is directive—plan plan plan, from your eyebrows to your funeral. I think that’s one reason I like to use forms, even just a hint of limitation. The form corsets the improvisation like a fence around a funhouse. (I was going to say “playground” but “funhouse” sounds better). So let me just promote not knowing what you’re doing, not being good, and not having a clue where you’re going until you get there. I would add – be an iconoclast. Read, yes, but not to nervously see what everyone else is doing. Comparison is conservativizing. Learn, and then unlearn.

JE: As an extension of the previous question, I am also curious about your influences. I love your poem “Walmart Parking Lot” and the way it conflates and subverts our expectations of what is considered “high” and “low” culture (for lack of better descriptors), such as when a Pollock brush stroke is compared to a “vomit-arc”. How organic it is for you to tie together the worlds of “the rural, the marginal” with Warhol’s city elite? Does allowing more room for improvisation in your work lead you to a more eclectic range of voices? Do you ever struggle with too many voices or needing to cut out excess?

DS: To be honest, I often am drawn to something just because it seems interesting to me. For instance—rather than polarizing Walmart and the urban artistic elite, what would happen if I conflated them? When I bring that question to the page, I don’t know how it will be answered. On a deeper level, I’m “diving into the wreck” of my own personhood. I am a messy crossroads who essentially belongs nowhere. Walmart depresses me. The art world (not art) alienates me. I have the wrong shoes. So when I explore the unlikely collision between those two realms I am investigating my own bifurcated nature. In that sense, it is the deepest definition of “organic.”

It’s a self-prompt, really: How can I use language to bring Georgia O’Keefe’s palette to the Walmart parking lot? How can I bring unlike things together via imagination rather than feeding the polarization? I’m sure I do have to cut out excess at times, but I also am suspicious of our kneejerk judgments about excess. If I trim the shrub I want to make sure I’m not doing it for a bad reason. Somebody killed my lilac bushes by trimming them too neatly, you know? One of the difficult things about poems is knowing when to be a rule-follower and when to be an outlaw. I think that’s when we need solitude, to cut ourselves off from the noise and re-encounter our own very particular weirdness.

JE: How pleasing to think of form as a corset – seductive, even! In addition to form, I was hoping to ask about your use of titles. Matthea Harvey says that some titles, such as “license plate” titles are for identifying information and others give a “lift off” to the poem. In one of your earlier poems from Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, “This is Now,” the title immediately tells us something that the first lines seem to negate –– that we are in the present tense, when the poem itself stays in the past tense through memory. This seems like a stark contrast that is meant to catch the reader’s attention, whereas in your newer work – the sonnets – the first lines echo the title, suggesting a sort of absence of label. Do you find yourself veering towards any specific type of title over time or does it depend on the occasion?

DS: Titling, for me, is utterly mysterious. I’ve tried to change it up over my writing life. I used to use what I call “toe tag” titles—like identification tags on the toes of corpses in the morgue. In my second book, Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, I tended to use the title as the poem’s first line, though not in “This is now,” which—you’re right—is a negation. I think I was working with the idea that the past is present. But that title, for Wolf Lake, was an anomaly. In Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl I used titles with a bit more nuance, I think. There is identifying data, yes, but also the title might offer up some tension, or an invitation into a mystery. I only use titles for the sonnets when they’re published in magazines. In the actual manuscript, for the book that will come out in a couple of years, there are no titles. The goal there is for the whole collection to feel like a poem in 150 parts (or however many sonnets there end up being). I use the first line as a title, bracketed, for magazines, since a few sonnets aren’t able to accrue as they will in the manuscript. The brackets/first lines seem retro, as the sonnet can be seen as retro. I like that. Ultimately I like to think of titling as part of the poem’s design, degree of formality or casualness, and voice. How titles might be used over a big sequence of poems for a book seems like one of those fun decisions, like cover art, typestyle, that sort of thing.

JE: I can’t conclude this interview without asking about the sonnets in memoir. Would you mind telling me a little about where this idea stemmed from? I’m curious as to whether you see this new project as more 'autobiographical' than your previous works; if the magic of invention is still as present in work that is more specifically memoir focused.

DS: A few people I trust suggested that I should write a memoir. As you know from reading my work, its genesis always originates from what Sharon Olds has called “apparent autobiography.” All lives are worthy, when considered as a source for art. Most lives don’t get told. My work has attempted to resonate beyond myself, to my mother’s life, my father’s, my sister’s, my ancestors’ lives, the life of my town, my landscape, my era, my gender, my class, etc. When I turned my mind to an actual autobiography, I found myself unable to hear its voice. Something episodic didn’t work; I just don’t experience things that way. What seemed more interesting than “this happened” and then “that happened” was to think about the nature of memory itself—how I/we remember, what memory serves, how to “tell a life” in a way that feels accurate to the way I experience it.

I was doing a writing residency in Washington during this time of thinking-through, and early on I drove to a place called Cape Disappointment, a hiking area with an archetypal lighthouse on a cliff. I got there and found myself unwilling to take the walk. I just didn’t have it in me. Instead I crawled in the back seat of the rental car and took a nap. I was actually in a funk, a dire funk. When I woke I drove back the way I came, stopping to pee on the roadside, as there were suddenly no bathrooms to be had. Once I continued driving I heard these lines in my head: “I drove all the way to Cape Disappointment but didn’t /have the energy to get out of the car. Rental. Blue Ford /Focus. I had to stop in a semi-public place to pee/on the ground. Just squatted there on the roadside.” I held them in my mind. Something in the sound of the lines—well, I was hearing something I wanted to pursue. Somehow, as I continued thinking the poem, I heard: “I’m a little like Frank O’Hara without the handsome/nose and penis and the New York School and Larry/Rivers.” How did Frank O’Hara get in there? I dig his work but I hadn’t thought about it as much as I had that of many other poets. But there he was. When I got back to my little cottage and got the lines written down, I found that it finished itself: “Thought about going into the Ocean/Medical Center for a check-up but how do I explain/this restless search for beauty or relief?”

As I’ve said earlier in this conversation, I trust improvisation more than conscious planning. I saw that this poem could be a kind of sonnet. I could certainly arrange it in fourteen lines. There was, or could be, a kind of volta. And what of Frank O’Hara coming into the frame of the poem? I looked further into him, re-read his poems, considered his own biography. He, too, was a fan of improvisation—at least the appearance of improvisation. His poems aren’t always short, but they tend to be short. Our stories had some interesting overlaps that I eventually would explore in the poems. I heard Frank’s appearance in that first sonnet as a message from the dead. Try an improvisational autobiography. Try sonnets. Try white space. Try spare. Try the arch, intimate, voice-forward slant of an O’Hara aesthetic. So I did. Finally I could hear what this work would sound like. I have found the sonnet to be wonderfully flexible in allowing for a great deal of range in how these units of poetry can operate and still work as a whole. Some of the poems function almost as fourteen-line brief memoir. Some have rhyme and meter. Some are documentary. Others are imagination-focused. Some have no “I.” Some are so I-centered it hurts. I’ve embarked on territory I couldn’t have managed without the form holding me steady.

I feel gratitude for the form, and especially for Frank, who nudged me.

And I feel grateful to you for such intelligent, compelling questions, Julia.



Julia Edwards is a poet from New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bat City Review, Sporklet, Stirring, Carolina Quarterly, Brooklyn Magazine, among others. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, where she served as poetry editor for The Greensboro Review.

Diane Seuss was born in Indiana and raised in Michigan. She earned a BA from Kalamazoo College and an MSW from Western Michigan University. Seuss is the author of the poetry collections Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (2018); Four-Legged Girl (2015), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (2010), winner of the 2009 Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (1998). Her work has appeared in Poetry, the Georgia Review, Brevity, Able Muse, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and the Missouri Review, as well as The Best American Poetry 2014. She was the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of English at Colorado College in 2012, and she has taught at Kalamazoo College since 1988.