The Last Usable Hour by Deborah Landau
(Lannan Literary Selections)

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"The poems of Landau's stunning second collection are dark, urgent, sexy, deeply sad, and, above all, powerful....Landau's abandon is thrilling in the way danger always is...."(Publisher's Weekly - Starred Review) It is "always nighttime" in The Last Usable Hour--a series of linked lyric sequences set in a midwinter New York City. At the heart of Deborah Landau's second collection are epistolary love poems to an elusive "someone." Here is a haunted singing voice, clear and spare, alone in the dark, alive with memory and desire yet hounded by premonitions of a calamitous future. The speaker of this "ghost book" is lucid and passionate, even as everything is disappearing--the streets deserted, the beloveds gone.
      forgive me for not sleeping
      this city is all spinning   all sky

      this city is dry and the people all wanting
      each with a coin purse   each with a thirst in her mouth

     dear someone   I put a shimmer on for you
     tonight I am all sequins   all lies

"Landau beautifully chronicles this saga of emptiness and loss that plays out against the luminous backdrop of the nocturnal City." -- John Ashbery

"In this heartbroken yet rough-as-a-just-cut-gem sequence, which takes despair and twirls it in all senses to try and make it spill its cheap undying trick, pain flirts, hysteria is an eros, taffeta begs to be worn as if an outer lining of the soul. The speaker of The Last Usable Hour begs you to use it, every instant of it -- urgent, confessing to imaginary crimes, wide awake to the one metaphysical joke, the one at our unique expense; and in a swirl of pain, desire, nasty gods, and sheer pluck, the protagonist of this bold book does just that." --- Jorie Graham

About Deborah Landau

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Deborah Landau: Deborah Landau is the author of Orchidelirium, which won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she was a Javits Fellow and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature. She co-hosts Open Book on and is the Director of the NYU Creative Writing Program. She lives in New York City.
Published June 21, 2011 by Copper Canyon Press. 96 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Real or not, this affair is dangerous, opening a pit of self-hate, though Landau's abandon is thrilling in the way danger always is: "dear someone," a later poems says, "thanks for the dream/ you leave a deep blue crease/ in the center of my day."

Jun 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Usable Hour (Lannan ...

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