Marshall Miles Interviews Susan Kinsolving, “Peripheral Vision”

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Peripheral Vision by poet Susan Kinsolving travels to many unexpected places: the ocean floor, a lunatic asylum, and to an ocularist for a glass eye. The book goes behind the scenes in a military hospital, an elementary school, and a disturbed family.

Susan Kinsolving’s poems were described in the New Yorker as “grand and almost terrifying.” In this new collection, she proves herself again. Exploring the world from many points of view, Kinsolving takes her readers to England, Hollywood, Wyoming, France, and Chile. In idiosyncratic homages, she invokes Neruda, Bishop, Clare, Frost, and Dickinson, along with Helen Keller and Odilon Redon.
While referencing fact or history, she attacks with “a startling backhand of wit and irony,” as noted once in the New York Times Book Review. She writes poignantly to a daughter in Hollywood and acerbically to an ex-husband. Her family’s most disastrous Thanksgiving is described in a funny piece, “Fill the Cavity with Crumbs.” In “The Case of the Carrot,” she reports on an absurd legal action in family court. All Kinsolving’s poems demonstrate a keen love of language, its dimensions of meaning and musicality of sound. Each poem is a pleasure.

Susan Kinsolving was born in Illinois, raised in New England, and educated in California. She has taught in the Bennington Writing Seminars, Southampton College, Willard-Cybulski Men’s Prison, University of Connecticut, California Institute of the Arts, and Keystone Academy in Beijing, China. She has received poetry fellowships from France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland, New York, Illinois, and Wyoming. As a librettist, she has heard her works performed in New York, California, Italy, and the Netherlands. She is Poet-in-Residence at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.


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