By Susan de Sola
Susan de Sola’s Frozen Charlotte spans the breadth of human experience—from celebration to lamentation, from gravity to lightheartedness, from domestic and quotidian scenarios to historic upheavals and their aftermaths, both European and American. She skillfully deploys an impressive range of formal styles and free verse in her debut collection. De Sola's Frozen Charlotte manifests all the hallmarks of a seasoned poet in surefootedness, wit, and depth of empathy.
[Frozen Charlotte] coruscates with light… exceptional language is de Sola’s forte…with the economy and compression of the best poetry, de Sola does a lot with very few words. . . 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
This collection is as much about the beauty of life as it is about transience; it startles with clever structures and unexpected twists woven with a continuous thread of melancholy…There is tight control over what she allows the reader a glimpse into, as she maneuvers from the narrative to the lyrical, to the comical, to the nostalgic. What is evoked is a feast for the senses.
—Dipika Mukherjee, RHINO
By turns sweet, bitter, and the literary equivalent of umami, the poems…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
[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
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
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
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
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
Susan de Sola’s poems have appeared in many venues, such as the Hudson Review and PN Review, and in anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2018. She is a winner of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize and the Frost Farm Prize. She holds a PhD in English from the Johns Hopkins University and has published essays and reviews as Susan de Sola Rodstein. Her photography is featured in the chapbook Little Blue Man. She is a faculty member at the West Chester Poetry Conference, and a featured poet at the 2020 Newburyport Literary Festival. A native New Yorker, she lives near Amsterdam with her family.
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