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.”
Diane Seuss is the author of three previous poetry collections, including 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.