frank: sonnets

Graywolf. Mar. 2021. 152p. ISBN 9781644450451. pap. $16. POETRY
If there’s one sentiment unifying this latest collection of free-verse sonnets from Seuss (Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl), it’s her sense of alienation. As she notes in one poem, the nuns thought she “was odd and tried to foist me off/ on the Buddhists.” In another poem, she mentions not having an “origin story, no soul.” Another poem speaks ironically of being uncomfortable in her apartment with a dishwasher, while elsewhere she wonders whether everything is an apparition. Several poems remember her family, her grandfather’s barber shop, and her great-grandmother or allude to the death of her father. Some have religious implications. Spinning these topics in a Jackson Pollack style, Seuss writes a stream-of-consciousness verse, with fragments rambling from one subject to another.
VERDICT All in all, there’s an awareness of the poet being separated--suggesting that she’s writing the poem as a way to connect to absent loved ones--perhaps her son who lives far away from her, or her former lover, or departed family members, or even her own self. But is she? It’s hard to pin down the meaning of a Seuss poem, which adds a certain pleasing sense of mystery to the best work here.
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