As a poet and reader I too find myself riveted to poems that alienate, and formalize, a kind of American bourgeois life, our daily decadences and tidied despairs. Thanks for mirroring the book back to me in such a smart way. One summer I rented an apartment across the street from a little synagogue in Paris, and every day at noon there was a wedding. For the first few days this seemed charming and quaint, but as the month wore on it came to feel like a parodic chain of performances featuring identical costumes, props, script, setting, and almost imperceptibly different casting.
Landau, what is the most satisfying part of writing poetry for you?
The hope of connecting with another person through language. I like giving readings, I like letters from readers, I like to share poems with friends. That kind of intimate connection, face to face, is one of the great pleasures. Poetry allows a sort of central-line access to inner life… You enter the interior world of another person.
That curiosity seems to exist in all of us innately. A favorite teacher of mine used to say that we crave the strangeness of others. The drive to connect with other people through language is strong.
Life is lonely; poetry—because of the intimate kind of connection Deborah landau allows—provides some respite. Do you often feel lonely in life? The few years I lived in Los Angeles were lonely. It was so beautiful there, but so isolating also—the car culture, the dead quiet on neighborhood streets in the middle of the afternoon.
And I could never live up to the perfect weather. The frenetic pace here suits me. How do you find time to write poetry with your schedule? I try to save at least an hour a day for poems, first thing in the morning before the day takes over.
As the day goes on it gets harder and harder to pay attention to anything. I have to consciously put down the phone, or leave it in another room. I try to power down at night so I can be present for the people who matter most to me.
Do you feel the same way? So much happens on the inside—in the mind—that even the most ordinary days often feel mysterious, wild, exhilarating. When a poem works, the familiar is made strange again, and life is revealed in all of its inarticulable weirdness.
My most recent book considers the pleasures and complexities of domestic life in hope of heightening the immense strangeness of these experiences. Which experiences do you mean exactly? Marriage, motherhood; subjects that might seem familiar.
What was your first thought after the birth of your kids? When writing autobiographically about your children or your sex life, do you ever have to overcome your fear of being embarrassed? What about when you read your work in front of an audience? I often wonder what compels me to do this!
A therapist once reassured me that the world needs writers to say the things we all feel but are ashamed to say. Ultimately, though, art and life are different things. When working on a poem my primary concern is just to try to write a good poem, to find a language that is energetic and alive and adequate to experience.
It would be a shame to waste our snippet of time on this planet being afraid.
Elizabeth Bishop famously said that a poem should enact the mind in motion rather than the mind at rest. My favorite poems capture the movements of the mind—its uncanny leaps and associations. So writing poetry has never felt like work to you? Writing is play; revising a poem can feel like work.
And I revise a lot, actually. It would be hard to say how many iterations a poem goes through before it seems finished, but typically many more than five or ten or even twenty. I feel fortunate to spend my days this way, reading and writing. Reading is always a key part of writing for me.
Reading widely and deeply is probably the most important thing one can do to become a better writer. We talk about that a lot at NYU where our graduate students are studying great poems and novels as a way to learn how to write their own.Instead of ignoring the strange things a woman's body does through motherhood and aging, Deborah Landau's new collection revels in them.
It's called "The Uses Of The Body." Tess Taylor has our. Deborah Landau is the author of three books of poems, including The Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, ). She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University. Deborah Landau's "The Uses of the Body" (Copper Canyon: 80 pp., $16 paper) looks hard at mortality, at the body and the body's deadly limitations: "Just at the moment when the person has.
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Deborah Landau is another fierce poet of desire, a New Yorker who splits time between there and Paris. Her stunning third book, “The Uses of the Body,” offers a meditation on aging and loss: a.