The Uses of the Body

“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 (“The uses of the body, illusion”) interspersed with lines of grave and startling beauty.”

Los Angeles Times
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“Landau has found an insidiously catchy music in The Uses of the Body. It’s like weaponized vers de société. ”         

The New Yorker

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“A thrilling meditation on the passages of a woman’s life.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

“Her arch observations create dark interior comedy that’s reminiscent of Virginia Woolf or Sylvia Plath….Get this book.”

–NPR, All Things Considered


“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.”


“Deborah Landau’s The Uses of the Body is one of the most haunting collections of the year. Raw and honest yet tender, Landau’s lyrical poems gaze unflinchingly at desire, sex, motherhood, marriage, regret, and all the strange wonders and vulnerabilities of the body.”


“As freshly immediate as ever, award-winning poet Landau (The Last Usable Hour) 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

“Forces of opposition rule in this gorgeous and unflinching third collection from Landau (The Last Usable Hour), director of NYU’s creative writing program. Powerful and vulnerable, spare in form and ardent in tone, her lyric sequences broach existential questions as sweeping and timeless as her language is particular and contemporary.”

–Publisher’s Weekly

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“The collection unveils the seemingly programmatic nature of female adulthood, pillars of which — marriage, childbirth — Landau examines, subverting expectation and sentimentality at every turn… Landau shows a Plathian sensibility, a gaze whose honesty regarding the processes of womanhood, motherhood, and aging is as perceptive as it is unsettling.“

The Los Angeles Review of Books

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“Deborah Landau is (a) fierce poet of desire…Her stunning third book, The Uses of the Body, offers a meditation on aging and loss: a series of elegant, long poems that sing, hesitate and haunt.”

-The San Francisco Chronicle

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“Landau’s occasional rhymes, sound patterns, repetitions, and rhythms—all impeccably executed..give the book its irresistible immediacy. The Uses of the Body is Landau’s most powerful and distinctive collection to date.”

                                                                                                 -Boston Review

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“Landau’s prose enlivens like metal paddles to the chest. “O blurred” she moans, “O tumble-rush of days we cannot catch.” When Emerson famously wrote, “cut these words and they would bleed,” he could have been speaking of Landau. Her poems leap from the page with uncanny mortal energy.”

-The Rumpus

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“Landau “taps into a national zeitgeist….Her childbirth poems rank alongside Mina Loy’s ‘‘Parturition,’’ Plath’s ‘‘Morning Song,’’ and…Berryman’s ‘‘Homage to Mistress Bradstreet.’’ The Uses of the Body is an exceptional volume that returns, in its last movement, to a moment of euphoric release.”

-The Gettysburg Review


The Last Usable Hour

“The poems of Landau’s stunning second collection are dark, urgent, sexy, deeply sad, and, above all, powerful.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
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“She is both confessional and direct, like Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg. Her taut, elegant, highly controlled constructions meditate upon yearning and selfhood… Landau reminds us of the nuanced beauty of language as, through their directness, her tight, graceful poems make readers feel as if they spoke only to them.”


“Throughout, understated themes appear, disappear, and return as they do in music, and Landau is adept at capturing desire with unique details: ‘There’s a little hole in my boot./ Could you put your finger in it?’ Caesuras break the speed of her lines, and she reveals a painterly control of white space.”

Library Journal
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“The Last Usable Hour might be one of our truest examples of serial poetry. Each of the book’s four sequences, and each of the poems that comprise them, stand as individual pieces and as chapters in a developing narrative.”

The Rumpus
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“Deborah Landau has put urgency into the often low-key advent of a second book—these beautiful harrowing poems are new-minted and young, but also age-old, broken and wise. She has found the perfect tone for her ‘city of interiors.’”

Huffington Post
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The intensity of the poems, found both in the potent imagery and language as well as the frank, emotional honesty of the content, makes the collection a compelling read….(Landau) invites the reader to be enveloped by the poems, to experience them as sensuous and tangible worlds, as expressions of a deep and dark and troubled love, both for the teeming, ever-present metropolis and the absent lover who’s the cause of the collection’s feel of smashed oblivion. Ultimately, it’s this sense of being consumed or enveloped by the collection, by its beauty and depravity, that makes it such an engaging and memorable read.

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Terrificly smart, witty, and slightly terrifying.”

The Best American Poetry
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“Landau’s intimate, lonely poems are profoundly engaged with the experience of the self in its starkest moments: when it is deprived, nocturnal, barely lingual. ….She creates a deeply erotic and resonant encounter between the lyric I and its solitude.”

The Boston Review
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