Sunday, October 04, 2015

Between the Lines: Four-Legged Girl

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Diane Seuss


Kalamazoo has a well-deserved reputation for being rich in the literary arts. And Diane Seuss is one of the best-known and most loved poetic voices in town. When Seuss gives a reading, the room is usually packed, and the audience often sighs, emits "oohs" and "ahhs," and claps for more. She has also taught many workshops and seminars in local literary circles.

The writer-in-residence at Kalamazoo College launches her third poetry collection in October. It's called Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press). Seuss readily credits her friend and mentor, poet and Kalamazoo College professor emeritus Conrad Hilberry, for her success.
“There’s no me without Con,” says Seuss. “When I was 15, I went to a rural high school in Niles. So not even the main high school in town but in Brandywine, out in the cow pasture. Con was a poet in the schools then and he was signed up to go to Niles High School. He’d read a poem of mine that I was naïve enough to send to a contest for which he was the judge. He gave it an honorable mention but he didn’t forget it. He came on his own volition to my high school to find me.”
Having found her, Hilberry told Seuss how much he had enjoyed her poem and asked for more. He also invited her to give a reading with him at the school. The rest, as they say, is history. Seuss was encouraged to pursue a career in writing and to come to Kalamazoo College where, after earning degrees there and at Western Michigan University, she's taught since 1988.
Seuss didn't always write poetry, though. She recalls time in New York writing romance novels and what she politely refers to as “that other genre” for a quick buck when she was young and finding her way.
But it is poetry that's brought Seuss critical and popular acclaim. She's the author of two previous poetry collections: It Blows You Hollow, andWolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, a winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, the Georgia ReviewNew Orleans ReviewPoetryThe New Yorker, and elsewhere.
A theme that reappears in her work is the power of femininity.
“And it’s not pink,” Seuss says. When thinking about what feminine power means to her, she says, “The first thing that comes to my mind is ...

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