Susan de Sola: The best poems, paintings and pieces of music keep their mysteries, you never get to the end of them, and yet, they are touching remnants of something deeply human that has vanished. A poem may converse with them—or try to. It’s a conversation between the past and the present, and the present and the future. Animals (who don’t make art as humans do) also figure in a great many poems. I love animals and am fascinated by them, and by the often absurd encounters of the human and the animal. In this book, whales, crickets, Bactrians and piglets, among others, have their poems.
—Interview at the Best American Poetry blog by Dante di Stefano
Bryn Mawr alum wins prestigious Frost Farm poetry prize.
—Article at the Philadelphia Enquirer by John Timpane
[Frozen Charlotte] coruscates with light. Dip into the book, browse through it, or read it nonstop: you emerge with an after-image that’s all color. . . . This poetry is active, more like video clips than snapshots. Even the static scenes suggest motion. . . . Humor flashes out of many of the poems. . . . With the economy and compression of the best poetry, de Sola does a lot with very few words. . . . Except that, more than color, it’s light that shines through the collection. But the light isn’t a glint or reflection that bounces off a surface; it’s not a hard glare or a soft glow: de Sola has layered light inside the words.
—Deborah Warren, Literary Matters
[In] Frozen Charlotte . . . we encounter camels on a Dutch freeway, a pet pig named Kevin who has a collar with his name spelled out in fake diamonds . . . Like Charles Simic, Susan de Sola draws on the resources of conventional poetry. “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose,” an ekphrastic piece about a painting by John Singer Sargent and set as a ghazal, is one of de Sola’s best poems . . . recording beautifully what she sees.
—Bruce Whiteman, Hudson Review
Lucidity unites the book’s poems, whether de Sola is training her attention on a pair of stockings, an umbrella (“an empty cup/ downturned/ to reroute// not gather”) or a vase of tulips effortfully lifted out of the long shadow of Plath (“plush concavities/ which made of content an irrelevancy”) . . . Although Frozen Charlotte often concerns itself with the wide gulfs between men and women, between past and present, between color and substance, [such] moments of empathy . . . remind us that bridges do exist.
—Jenna Le, Agni
Susan de Sola’s Frozen Charlotte is a lyrical collection exploring a rich cultural and familial tapestry that spans continents and generations. Frozen Charlotte delivers tight poems that sing; whether elegies or odes, Susan de Sola reminds that life is full of loss, and gratitude and celebration go hand in hand with pain.
—Scott Whitaker, The Broadkill Review
Frozen Charlotte is a book of strong poetry, both formal and free verse . . . Susan de Sola’s poems are, above all, full of warmth and life.
—Robin Helweg-Larsen, Formalverse.com
…de Sola’s is a “large” poetry in the best sense. It’s also distinctive. When you’re reading Frozen Charlotte, you’re spending time with a unique sensibility, both personal and poetic. Even as de Sola keeps faith with many aspects of poetry’s great tradition, she’s also, in an unshowy way, an original.
—Daniel Brown, World Literature Today
Poetry is emotion put into measure,” Thomas Hardy said. Susan de Sola (a contributor to the Arts Fuse) in her wide-ranging collection Frozen Charlotte excels in both of these domains. . . . In addition to weighty subjects, de Sola can be laugh out loud amusing. . . . In Frozen Charlotte, Susan de Sola provides readers with enough aesthetic pleasure and thoughtful commentary about today’s world to remind us of just how good—and necessary—poetry can be.
—Ed Meek, The Arts Fuse
A Frozen Charlotte is not a dessert, and while that discovery dashed my gourmandish hopes, this book turns out to be a very tasty sampler indeed. By turns sweet, bitter, and the literary equivalent of umami, the poems within it range from straightforward, heartbreaking evocations of feeling and mood to extremely out-there wordplay to character studies to light verse. Not only the subject matter but the poetic technique changes from page to page, yet there is never a sense of difficulty for its own sake, nor does the book feel like a random jumble. . . . Let’s get out of the way the fact that Susan de Sola is a masterful poet. She handles a range of forms seemingly without breaking a sweat. . . . This book will change with the light each time you read it. There is humor in the monumentally sad poems and pointed meaning in the funny ones. This rich, kaleidoscopic collection is better than any dessert.
—Barbara Egel, Light
Forthcoming reviews at the Rumpus, Mom Egg Review, RHINO, Birmingham Poetry Review, Valparaiso Review, the Mom Egg Review, the Hopkins Review, and the Fire Island News.
Blurbs from Dick Davis (foreword), Mark Jarman, Clare Rossini, and Kim Bridgford. Amazon reviews by Dana Gioia, Helen Hecht, Jonathan F.S. Post, Ed Shacklee, William A. Conelly, and others.
The breadth of Susan de Sola’s poetry, by turns gossamer light and solemnly elegiac, offers a pleasurable aesthetic surprise from poem to poem—from “sun-starved Dutchmen” to immigrant Jews in Manhattan, from tulips to the life of a friend whose actual name she never knew, from the imagined language of rocks to a war widow’s cedar closet, from the death of an infant to conjugal love. Susan de Sola evinces wit and knowingness, a dexterity with verse, a way with form. The pleasure of de Sola’s poetry is to be in the presence of virtuosity and insight, of a poet who knows what it means to be human, and when to be serious and when to be light.
—Mark Jarman, author of The Heronry
When I read Susan de Sola’s uncanny title poem “Frozen Charlotte” for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I feel the same about the book as a whole, a virtuoso grouping of form and topic, a book that is haunting, yet which also sparkles with a sense of humor that I much enjoyed. Susan de Sola, it seems, can write in any form. While this book is her first full-length collection, it is the work of a master craftsperson.
—Kim Bridgford, author of Undone
Whether their subject is a painting by Sargent, a gathering at the site of a Holocaust deportation center, or the bestial appearance of ATM machines, Susan de Sola’s poems seem animate with her vision: the poems breathe on the page. Part of de Sola’s power lies in her formal acumen. Every word here seems carefully sieved from the welter of English, and each poem’s form is perfectly matched to its ambition and music. De Sola’s tonal range is equally rich—she is by turns funny and dark, pensive and sly, her voice resounding in the reader’s head long after a poem’s final line. Like its memorable title poem, Frozen Charlotte intrigues, goes deep, surprises. It is a book rich with the pleasures the best poetry provides.
—Clare Rossini, author of Lingo
This book has many moods and many messages for any reader who pays the poems collected here the attention they deserve. At times it seems a fairground, at times a graveyard, and neither cancels the other out. It is a mark of Susan de Sola’s always persuasive rhetoric that we see that both characterizations are somehow, simultaneously, true, and that despite their exhilarating variety these poems are of a piece and come from one complex, sophisticated, supremely alert sensibility.
—Dick Davis (from the foreword), author of Love in Another Language