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Cover for The Uses of the Body

The Uses of the Body

Deborah Landau


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A thrilling meditation on the passages of a woman's life.--O, The Oprah Magazine

"Landau's killer wit evokes Dorothy Parker crossed with Sylvia Plath--leaping spark after spark, growing to deadly dark fire. The Uses of the Body is her best book, its acerbic tone interspersed with lines of grave and startling beauty." --Los Angeles Times

Like Richard Linklater's Boyhood, but for girls (and women): Deborah Landau's vividly relatable third collection, The Uses of the Body, reminds us that coming of age lasts well beyond adolescence." --Vogue

* "As freshly immediate as ever, award-winning poet Landau reveals that 'the uses of the body are manifold, ' moving in four sections with a roughly chronological feel from wedding parties to flabby bodies around the pool to the realization 'But we already did everything'--all with an underlying sense of urgency: 'Life please explain.' As Landau explores her physical self and her sexuality, she's tart, witty, fluid, direct, and brutally honest, and her work can be appreciated by any reader."--Library Journal, starred review

Deborah Landau . . . is both confessional and direct, like Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg. Her taut, elegant, highly controlled constructions meditate upon yearning and selfhood.--Booklist

Deborah Landau's Uses of the Body presents the very specific challenges of womanhood. Her poems address what it means to be alive--right now--in a female body. She fills her poetry with compelling nouns: wine glasses, bridal gowns, and books and teacups and ghosts. And what ghosts: underneath evocative images and poetic play, there's a moving, yearning mysticism.

From Mr and Mrs End of Suffering:

The uses of the body are wake up.
The uses of the body, illusion.

The uses of the body. Rinse repeat.
To make another body.

September. Draw the blanket up.
Lace your shoes.

The major and minor passions. Sunlight. Hair.

The basic pleasures. Tomatoes, Keats, meeting a smart man for a drink.

The uses of the body.
It is only a small house. It gets older.

Its upper and lower.
Its red and white trim.

It's tempting to gloss over this part,
so you won't really see me.

Deborah Landau is the author of two books of poetry. She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she earned her PhD. Currently she is the director of the NYU Creative Writing Program and lives in New York City.

Copper Canyon Press, 9781556594816, 80pp.

Publication Date: April 21, 2015

About the Author

Deborah Landau is the author of Orchidelirium, which won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and The Last Usable Hour (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she was a Javits Fellow and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature. For many years she co-hosted the Open Book series on, and she is the Director of the NYU Creative Writing Program. She lives in New York City.

Coverage from NPR