2022 Pulitzer Prize Winner Visits with Creative Writing Graduate Students

Michigan poet Diane Seuss shares her journey as a writer

| Author: Robert Fanning | Media Contact: Sarah Buckley

Students in Professor Robert Fanning’s Graduate Seminar in Poetry had the incredible opportunity to learn from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Diane Seuss when she spoke with the class via WebEx on Oct. 5.

Seuss is the author of frank: sonnets, her award-winning memoir in sonnets. She answered questions about the craft and process of her sonnet-making, but also about her life.

In frank: sonnets, Diane’s life—with all of its joys and pains—is on full display for the reader. Being a writer who has found her voice and power in sharing hard truths, she answered graduate student Jordyn Damato’s question about how to do just that.

“Remember that a poem is a piece of art,” Seuss said. “Use your power. Use whatever you’ve got. We have the power. We can tell our stories.”

Over her career, Seuss has learned that writing the most challenging personal stories creates the most powerful poems, a point that impressed another master of arts candidate, Sammantha Loveless. “Diane Seuss taught me that there’s something so powerful about an experience we’ve lived,” Loveless said, “and we relive it through writing.”

Only two other Michigan poets, Theodore Roethke and Philip Levine, have won the Pulitzer—both of whom moved out of state. Speaking of that, Seuss said, “The difference is those guys left. I’m not going anywhere. Michigan is my home.”

In closing, Seuss, who was a visitor on campus for the Meijer Visiting Writers Series in 2017, told the students she only wishes she could have been in the room and that she would love to get to know all of them and their writing.

“Goodbye, sweeties,” she said. “Now go shatter the world with your poems.”

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