Five Questions with Deborah Landau / by Washington Square

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Deborah Landau is the author of three collections of poetry: The Uses of the Body and The Last Usable Hour, both Lannan Literary Selections from Copper Canyon Press, and Orchidelirium, which won the Robert Dana Anhinga Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Poetry, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Best American Poetry. She is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow.

What's more, Deborah is the fearless and generous leader of the NYU Creative Writing Program, where she also teaches an "Art of the Book" class, which, having taken it, I can vouch for as fantastic. "I never know until I get to the end of one line what the next will be. Life is also like that," she writes in a beautiful article on living line by line, which you can find here. And over here listen to Deborah reading a poem from her latest collection, The Uses of the Body. One of my favorite lines from that book is: "Oh, skin! What a cloth to live in." Indeed. 

—Alisha Kaplan

1. What is your greatest extravagance?

Walls of books, Berthillon ice cream, extremely hot baths.

2. Whom would you consider to be winter poets, and does your poetry have a season? 

Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Anne Carson.

I’ve never thought about it, but my second book of poems is probably a winter, my third, a summer. 

3. What's your favorite New York City neighborhood?

Prince Street from Lafayette to Mott (McNally Jackson, the graveyard, the cupcake shop).
(And also: the stretch of West Tenth from Writers House to Three Lives.)

4. What music do you turn to in dark times? 

Chopin’s Nocturnes, Lucinda Williams, Nick Drake.

5. Describe the most beautiful color.

Dark plum velvet.