What I admire is her character and willingness to observe that which is hard to look at. In frank: sonnets, Seuss transforms 'tragic spectacle' into something beautiful, visionary ... This collection is a catalog of contradictions. Seuss is vulnerable and direct in these poems, but she’s never naive and certainly not stupid ... The way Seuss writes is at times abrupt and devastatingly severe, and still unflinchingly romantic in every awful sense of the word ... Perhaps this is the reason I am so struck by Seuss’s work here: I admire writers who live as a comet, shooting by with 'nothing left to lose.' You can’t make it through these poems and not be affected. They gesture around at the art of everybody’s lives.
Dynamic and deeply original ... Through the limited space of the sonnet, Seuss’s work is to extract meaning from life’s vast brokenness and chaos ... Seuss is at her most moving and morally attuned when she experiences this membrane of mortality opening and reckons with the thinness of life ... Seuss’s poems depicting friends suffering from AIDS are among the most memorable in the book, carrying both the intimacy of a Nan Goldin photograph and the moral urgency of a prayer or biblical scene ... Complex and timely.
One of my first thoughts, when I began reading frank: sonnets and experienced the crash and powerful undertow of Seuss’s lines, is that readers of poetry are sure to soon see imitations of Seuss’s sonnets abounding in literary journals and online—the experience of reading frank: sonnets feels very close to writing; it is a heady, intoxicating experience. Seuss understands the labor of a sonnet’s particular space ... Like a mid-air dancer, Seuss makes the leap look easy ... Seuss transforms what we think of as the sonnet’s landscape ... Part of the joy of reading frank: sonnets is the incredible variety of grammar and form ... The richly historied form of the sonnet is a powerhouse for holding the past ... frank: sonnets is a tour de force and essential reading.
The sonnets in Diane Seuss’ latest collection...push hard against the form’s strictures and often break loose ... Seuss has created a technically exquisite, beautifully painful book. It’s a cohesive piece, not merely a collection of poems, and reading it is an experience of falling into a controlled flow of personal history and loss.
Seuss’s sonnets fit few of the conventions of the traditional form, yet maintain all of its ethos. At its most basic, the sonnet is a love poem and that is just what Seuss has created here ... One of the innumerable joys of this book is that Seuss always knows exactly how she maneuvers her reader. Her writing is endlessly self-aware ... frank: sonnets did not break my heart, though it reminded me my heart was already broken. The book held my hand during this realization and, like children playing with their bodies for the first time, opened itself to reveal its own brokenness.
Compelling ... By letting the reader in on such private interactions and memories, she creates a sense of intimacy, giving the collection a diary-like quality. This is compounded by the specific nature of her descriptions and choice of detail ... There is a faith in the reader’s ability to deduce and extrapolate, to add the pieces together and share in a rich history ... There are ways in which frank: sonnets is imperfect. Sometimes the details and observations are a bit too easy or on the nose ... But still, all of these imperfections add to frank’s charm. These moments of met expectation or when the poems seem to intentionally call attention to themselves just add to the authenticity. What feels messy also feels real, adding honest nuance to pieces that already feel complex and genuine. Ultimately, despite (or maybe because of) its fleeting blemishes, it is a complete and absorbing assemblage of personal recollections, constructed with piercing detail and candor.
Ambitious ... Take[s] the reader on a ride of wild abandonment and exuberance ... While Seuss breaks conventional sonnet rules of meter and rhyme, these 14-line poems are both taut and free ... Seuss’s intimate candor and musical ear make this an inventive and unforgettable book.