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'It's so beyond anything I ever dreamed': Kalamazoo poet wins Pulitzer Prize

Seuss, Diane (Gabrielle Montesanti).jpg
Posted at 7:41 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 20:01:25-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A West Michigan author is being recognized nationally for her most recent works of poetry, winning a Pulitzer Prize.

The award ceremony was held virtually on Monday.

Longtime teacher and former Kalamazoo College Prof. Diane Seuss was one of the winners, winning the award for poetry out of 22 total categories.

She won the award for her book frank: sonnets, which was released last March.

"It's so beyond anything I ever dreamed or expected in life," said Diane Seuss, who won a Pulitzer Prize.

Gabrielle Montesanti

Seuss said she has been writing poetry since she was a teen, growing up in Niles, Michigan.

She attended Kalamazoo College and eventually came back to teach.

"My degree was in my master's in social work, and I was doing that work, but the poetry persisted and kind of took over, and, you know, by the time I taught at K, it seemed very natural to me. It was kind of my place, and I knew that I knew that kind of student, because I was one," said Seuss.

While she no longer works there, she said she still does readings, workshops and visits when she can.

Seuss now mainly focuses on her writing and has published five books to date.

Her 2015 book, The Four-Legged Girl, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2016.

Her recent work published with Graywolf Press, frank: sonnets, is her most personal to date, she said.

"The book is kind of a memoir in sonnets. It's about my whole life, and I think it gave a lot of other people, readers, permission to value their own experience as well, so it feels like the book almost feels like a separate entity from me," said Seuss.

Her message to other writers? Persist.

"The acknowledgment, I think ... it's about more than just me. It's the acknowledgement of a poet from the Midwest, you know, not a coastal poet, not an urban poet. You know, I'm ... an older woman ... I'm not a young upstart. And I've been toiling away at this craft my whole life," said Seuss.

frank: sonnets also won three other awards since its release, including, the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection and the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry.

Seuss said she is already working on a sixth book called Modern Poetry, which is set to be released in 2024.

For more on this year's other Pulitzer Prize winners, click here.

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