Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Diane Seuss’s brilliant follow-up to Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Still life with stack of bills phone cord cig butt and freezer-burned Dreamsicle
Still life with Easter Bunny twenty caged minks and rusty meat grinder
Still life with whiskey wooden leg two potpies and a dead parakeet
Still life with pork rinds pickled peppers and the Book of Revelation
Still life with feeding tube oxygen half-eaten raspberry Zinger
Still life with convenience store pecking order shotgun blast to the face

―from “American Still Lives”

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 in 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.”

Title:Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781555978068
Format Type:

About Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss was born in Indiana and raised in Michigan. She earned a BA from Kalamazoo College and an MSW from Western Michigan University. 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


    Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl Reviews

  • Ken

    If you are a fan of both poetry and painting, this collection will no doubt appeal to you. It's rich with a lot of poems, most all of them descriptions of still lives or of lives of various painters o...

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    In this poetry collection, Seuss examines pieces of art, often still life paintings, and relates them to the varied experiences of every day life in our modern world. Pictures of sadness and struggle ...

  • Caroline

    Seuss, in STILL LIFE WITH TWO DEAD PEACOCKS AND A GIRL, dares to attempt the reconciliation of the quotidian and the sublime. That endeavor means the collection is inherently courageous; the fact that...

  • Elizabeth Willis

    STILL LIFE WITH TWO DEAD PEACOCKS AND A GIRL is the memento mori of twenty-first century America, “like greeters at Walmart who are there to remind us that we, too, / will be greeters at Walmart.”...

  • Shaindel

    Ever since happening upon Diane Seuss's work online from Poem-A-Day at Poets.org , I've been a fan. Here's a poem if you haven't read her yet: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/toadOne of my student...

  • Margaryta

    Seuss' poetry is compelling to say the least. "Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl" isn't just about ekphrasis, although there is quite a bit of it in the collection. Seuss certainly takes bi...

  • H James

    Ms Seuss gleefully tramples any ideas I may have had as to the boundaries between poetry from prose. Even as this work serves as a collection of poems written and published separately, it functions as...

  • Amie Whittemore

    Holy balls, this is an amazing collection of poems. It is wry and astute, commenting on the act of making art, while (obviously) also making art. It examines silence and stillness as twins, as elders,...

  • Jordan

    These poems are dense the way a child's summer's day is dense—bittersweet and infinite, full of discovery and loss. Truly a wonderful collection....

  • Sarah Schantz

    After reading Diane Suess's last collection (I think), The Four-Legged Girl, and not liking it (especially not liking it as much as I'd been led to believe I would like it), I knew I was taking a risk...